If you've got to start, it's good to start at the top.
MLS Atlanta, the expansion club set to join Major League Soccer in 2017, took the first step toward building out its front office on Wednesday, announcing the appointment of Darren Eales as club president.
Currently the executive director of English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, Eales will join the Atlanta club later this year, according to a release put out by MLS Atlanta.
“Soccer is a lifetime passion of mine, and to have the chance to come to Atlanta and build a club from the ground up is extremely exciting,” said Eales. “I’m going to have the rare experience of getting to know the fans from the outset, and I’m eager to engage them in the process, from naming the team to creating an incredible atmosphere at our matches. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to have the support of a respected owner in Arthur Blank and the chance to field a team in a brand new state-of-the-art facility. MLS is going from strength to strength, and really making its mark, so it’s a privilege to be part of its expansion. I’m looking forward to being a part of MLS Atlanta and helping to make this a great success story.”
At Spurs, Eales has been involved heavily in the club's soccer operations. This includes helping to negotiate and execute player transfers on such deals as Gareth Bale's record move to Real Madrid and the moves of former Spurs players Robbie Keane, Clint Dempsey and Jermain Defoe to clubs in MLS. Going the other way, Eales assisted in the negotiations for Spurs to acquire Seattle Sounders star DeAndre Yedlin.
Eales, also worked as in-house legal counsel for another EPL club, West Bromwich Albion before joining Spurs in 2010.
Before becoming a soccer executive, the British-born Eales enjoyed a successful career as a player in the United States. He was an All-American forward for Brown University, where he was named Ivy League Player of the Year in 1994. In 2012, he was inducted into the Brown University Athletics Hall of Fame. After college, he played professionally with lower-division clubs Hampton Roads Mariners and Hershey Wildcats in the USISL, and the New York Centaurs in the A-League.
“We couldn’t be happier with Darren’s decision to join us as president of MLS Atlanta,” said club Owner Arthur Blank. “He brings a unique depth of experience to our organization, having played in the U.S. professionally and given his dealings with MLS as a club executive and legal counsel in the Premier League. His credentials speak for themselves; he knows how to lead a first-class organization and build a winning team.”
Atlanta MLS will join MLS as the league's 22nd team, and the club has already signed up more than 5,300 fans for the Founders Club season ticket program resulting in over 15,500 seats reserved.