The front office can make or break a team, literally to the point of folding and shutting down operations. One benchmark that our local Atlanta United has set is a very trustworthy and patient front office. The combination of super-owner Arthur Blank, who had an excellent vision for the team, and president Darren Eales who brought out the team’s best.
Atlanta United had to spend a lot to get highly skilled players from different leagues in the transfer market. They shelled out big to find coach Tata Martino, who became the focal point of their recruiting strategy. Thanks goes to the front office headed by Eales and by owner Arthur Blank, who was willing to make such moves and payout money, time, and resources to be able to put the best team together for Atlanta. The price to enter the league cost Blank a massive $70 million for an expansion team and a whopping $1.2 billion to create the amazing Mercedes-Benz stadium that is arguably the best in the league.
Everything was all worth it. Whatever money the team spent to build awareness of the sport in Atlanta, getting celebrities and athletes from other sports to promote the team was worth it. The marketing campaigns and different financing they had to do – from hiring the best training staff and having top-notch equipment, medical facilities, and programs, to scouting team that found great players like Miguel Almiron, Josef Martinez, Ezequiel Barco, and many more talented South American and foreign players – were worth it. They won their first championship in just their second season!
In the second season, they brought home the MLS trophy, and with that came the adulations, including a championship parade in Atlanta. After such a glorious season, their legacy was cemented in the city. The brilliance of Daren Eales is unparalleled. He was able to earn them a fortune in a transfer fee by getting $27 million (the most significant transfer amount in MLS history) in a deal to send Almiron to Newcastle United. The former executive director of Tottenham Hotspur has been a critical member of the club since the beginning.
Arthur Blank said that “most MLS teams are profitable”, which indicates his strong belief in his decision to create a professional soccer team in Atlanta and of the potential the league has in the United States. His team is now worth an incredible $500 million because of his vision and actions. They put themselves on the soccer map, with many, many successful years to come.