California Gazette

Bayern Munich and LAFC Launch Player Development Partnership

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Bayern Munich, the current leaders of the Bundesliga, and LAFC, the reigning MLS Cup champions, are joining forces to enhance their individual player development initiatives. The clubs revealed their collaboration plans recently.

The two companies have teamed up to create a “global soccer development cooperation” called “Red&Gold Football,” which will be headquartered in Munich, Germany. Both clubs will have equal ownership, each holding 50 percent of the venture’s shares.

The collaboration of this scale marks a significant milestone in our club’s growth, according to LAFC’s co-president and general manager, John Thorrington. He expressed immense enthusiasm about joining forces with FC Bayern to discover and nurture promising footballers in southern California and beyond. Thorrington believes that this partnership will offer players the opportunity to fully develop their skills and see a clear path toward playing for the first team.

The Drive Behind the Partnership  

Bayern CEO and board chairman Oliver Kahn stated that soccer is growing rapidly on an international scale, which is clearly visible in the transfer market. He believes that this collaboration will help FC Bayern enhance its competitive position against top European and Bundesliga clubs.

In an exclusive interview with ESPN, Thorrington mentioned that the collaboration would involve sharing best practices related to player development and coaching. However, he emphasized that the main objective of this partnership is to achieve “vertical integration” within the global transfer market. Additionally, LAFC aims to gain access to Bayern’s extensive scouting network.

The transfer market plays a significant role in the business, and it seems that Bayern Munich recognizes the immense potential in MLS, LAFC, and the stream of skilled players, according to Thorrington. This allows them to pursue more experienced players while also expanding their reach within their academy, ultimately providing them with more opportunities to place players internationally.

This may include athletes from LAFC’s academy transferring to Munich, as well as Bayern players who are not yet prepared for their primary team receiving some game experience with the Los Angeles team.

Looking Into the Future

Thorrington stated that nowadays, it is much more feasible for a young player from an academy to envision themselves becoming the next Alphonso Davies, who grew up in LA and went on to play for Bayern Munich in the Champions League. They hope to make this a common path for young talents. He mentioned that both clubs expect to collaborate with other football clubs and development academies worldwide as part of an international growth effort.

When questioned whether this was an attempt to emulate organizations like City Football Group, which has Manchester City as its flagship team along with several others such as LaLiga’s Girona FC and MLS’s New York City FC, Thorrington explained that the situation was different as it involved a joint venture, rather than an exchange of shares or acquisition.

Neither club is buying the other. However, this approach allows them to gain some benefits that other clubs have, which they lack when functioning independently. They believe that this collaboration strikes the perfect balance, as their main focus remains on what LAFC offers to supporters in LA, their players, and everything related to their local base. However, they also recognize that to truly maximize potential in LA, it’s essential for them to be an active player in the global ecosystem, which will ultimately enhance the success of LAFC.

In addition to establishing an international office in New York in 2014, Bayern also had a prior connection with FC Dallas, going back to 2018. Bayern’s Chief Sports Officer, Hasan Salihamidzic, stated that collaborating with Los Angeles Football Club allows them to nurture global talent within their own infrastructure. He also mentioned that their campus, central to FC Bayern’s youth development, will reap benefits from this partnership.

What’s Next?

In the future, they will be able to provide a more personalized career path for their young players, ensuring a smoother transition into professional teams and soccer. This will make FC Bayern a more appealing option for youth development.

Thorrington mentioned that Bayern initiated contact with LAFC’s owners regarding the collaboration, and talks progressed further in March 2022. At that time, he and LAFC’s Chief Business Officer, Larry Freedman, got involved.

He mentioned that although there will be considerable common ground, this collaborative project will receive financial support from both parties and will have its own dedicated staff. These staff members will be positioned at the intersection between the clubs, working within an international network to benefit both clubs.

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