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Revolution, Sporting CP Announce Strategic Parternship

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Revolution fans have been clamoring for a European club partnership for a while, and now president Brian Bilello and GM Michael Burns were in Lisbon, Portugal today to announce a deal with Sporting CP.

Denis Doyle

Just a few short weeks after unveiling Jermaine Jones as a Designated Player, the New England Revolution have announced their first European club partnership per team release:

The Revolution and Portuguese power Sporting Clube de Portugal (Sporting) have announced the clubs have entered in to a multiple-year strategic partnership. Revolution club president Brian Bilello and general manager Michael Burns were in Lisbon today for the announcement, which will result in shared expertise, benefit and promotion for each club.

"We're very excited to partner with a club with such history and prestige as Sporting Club De Portugal," Bilello said. "The opportunity to not only partner on activities to improve our first team, but also to work with their prestigious academy on youth development, will benefit our club for many years. We will also assist Sporting in their efforts to explore opportunities to increase Sporting's reach within the United States, both on and off the field."

The primary focus of the partnership is to promote collaboration on training and development methods for both the clubs' first teams and youth squads. In regards to the first team, the agreement allows for the Revolution to bring in Sporting players on loan. Additionally, the teams will share scouting resources between the organizations. On the youth development side, the agreement allows for the clubs' academy teams, youth players and coaches to spend training time with the other organization's teams

"Sporting has been one of the most consistent and successful programs in Europe, and we're looking forward to working with their staff to share best practices, player talent and scouting resources," Burns said. "Both clubs have been recognized for our youth development programs, and we're anticipating a tremendous shared benefit by this partnership."

The partnership also allows for potential friendly matches at both the first-team and youth-team levels, as well as special commercial opportunities to help Sporting's brand grow in the U.S., and the Revolution's brand to grow in Portugal and Europe.

The genesis of the partnership came earlier this season when the Sporting executives traveled to Foxborough for the Portugal-Mexico international friendly at Gillette Stadium on June 6. This is the Revolution's first-ever international club partnership.

This is a tremendous move for the Revolution and with a large Portuguese population in the New England area it makes a lot of sense to partner with the 18-time Primera Liga (Portugal's top flight) champions and 15-time Portuguese Cup champions. Sporting's Academy system is also world renowned and has produced several big-name Portugal internationals such as Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani, Joao Moutinho and Luis Figo and with the Revs fledgeling academy system already producing homegrown players like Diego Fagundez and Scott Caldwell, the ability to partner with another tremendous academy system could launch the next generation of Revs homegrown players.

Another subtle mention in this is probably the inclusion of summer friendies, something the Revolution did not participate in this year with European clubs. With the popularity of the above mentioned Portugal-Mexico friendly at Gillette Stadium, it would make sense that some of those fans would return for a Sporting-Revolution friendly and a chance for both clubs to expand their brands across both continents.

Sporting CP, also known as Sporting Lisbon, was founded in 1906 and helped found the Primera Liga in 1933. Along with Benfica and Porto, they make up Portugal's "Big Three" clubs and have never been relegated from the first division. In 1963-64, Sporting won the European Cup Winners Cup over Hungarian side MTK Budapest and in 2004-05 were runner's up in the UEFA Cup losing to CSKA Moscow in the final. Yesterday, Sporting lost to Chelsea 1-0 in the group stage of the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League.