7 Premier League Teams That Have Established and Used 'Feeder Club' Relationships


Leicester City are the latest Premier League side to take on a feeder club after acquiring a majority stake in Belgian second division side OH Leuven this month, an increasingly common venture as teams around the world pair up more and more.

Taking into account both past and present, here's a look at seven English clubs and some of the 'feeder club' relationships they've had...

7. Tottenham Hotspur - San Jose Earthquakes

Tottenham began a formal partnership with MLS franchise San Jose Earthquakes in 2008 with the main intention of using their new Californian friends as an access point to the American market. MLS rules actually prohibit clubs from entering into specifically 'feeder' relationships so there were some restrictions as to what Spurs could get out of it.

They could, however, still loan players to the Quakes, and Spurs academy graduate Simon Dawkins was one such example after spending the 2011 and 2012 MLS seasons stateside.

Although, the relationship no longer exists, London-born Dawkins continues to remain a link between the two teams. The midfielder was eventually sold to Derby County by Spurs in 2014, but he subsequently returned to San Jose on a permanent basis last year.

6. Liverpool - Genk

Liverpool struck a partnership deal with Belgian club Genk in 2010, although the success of this now agreement, seemingly defunct since 2014, appeared to be minimal at best.

It was intended that the Reds might use Genk as place to send non-EU players from South America or Africa to play until they could get a work permit, as employment laws in Belgium and many other European countries are less strict than the United Kingdom.

French defender Chris Mavinga briefly went to Belgium on loan, but there was a conspicuous lack of other activity between the clubs. And although it had never been about buying up talent, Liverpool also sat by as Chelsea happily snapped up Thibaut Courtois and Kevin de Bruyne.

Christian Benteke, a player for whom the Reds later excessively paid £32m for, also left Genk for Aston Villa during this period. All three players were sold by Genk for a combined £22m.

5. Leicester City - OH Leuven

Former Premier League champions Leicester City acquired a 92% share in Belgian second tier side OH Leuven earlier this year, with Foxes vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha leading the takeover efforts and being appointed to the board of directors.

Leicester chief executive Susan Whelan and director of football Jon Rudkin will also serve on Leuven's executive board.

Upon completion of the takeover just this month, a statement from the King Power Group read: "Investments in both staff and infrastructure will form the basis for this and interact with the supporters without losing sight of the social role of the club. In the long term, we want to make OH Leuven a competitive club at the highest level of Belgian football."    

4. Arsenal - Colorado Rapids

Before Stan Kroenke was an Arsenal shareholder, his MLS franchise Colorado Rapids had entered into a relationship with the Gunners designed to promote the north London club in the United States and develop the Rapids through shared methods and support.

From that partnership being announced in February 2007, it was only two more months until Kroenke started buying Arsenal shares. Ironically he was as the lesser of two evils by the Arsenal board at the time, with shareholder Alisher Usmanov supposedly planning a takeover of his own.

Arsenal have also held relationships in the past with famed Ivory Coast club ASEC Mimosas, from whom they signed Kolo Toure, and Belgian side Beveren, from where Emmanuel Eboue came - Eboue also had prior links to ASEC Mimosas.

Yaya Toure was another with ties to both ASEC Mimosas and Beveren, earning a trial with the Gunners in 2003. But the future Manchester City player went to Metalurh Donetsk instead after failing to impress Arsene Wenger and struggling to secure a UK work permit.

3. Manchester City - New York City/Melbourne City

Manchester City are just one of the football clubs in Sheikh Mansour's growing 'City Football Group', with clubs in America, Australia and Japan added to the portfolio in recent years. City took an MLS expansion spot in 2013 to give birth to New York City, who played their debut season a year later.

David Villa was the first signing, but joined City's club in Melbourne on loan until NYC were ready for the inaugural campaign. Frank Lampard then crossed the bridges between Manchester City and New York City, while Patrick Vieira left his role as reserve team coach in Manchester at the end of 2015 to gain experience as head coach in New York.

Manchester City signed Aaron Mooy from Melbourne City in 2016, presumably to give the midfielder a chance to make it in Europe as he was immediately loaned to Huddersfield and is expected to be sold on after helping the Terriers earn promotion to the Premier League.

The partnership with Yokohama F Marinos in Japan has so far been more about sharing marketing, media, medical and training methods rather than players.  

2. Manchester United - Royal Antwerp

Manchester United's most famous of many feeder club relationships and partnerships over the years saw a number of Old Trafford youngsters head to Royal Antwerp in Belgium for their first real taste of first-team football.

John O'Shea, later a winner of five Premier League titles and the Champions League, is arguably the most famous example. Jonny Evans, Danny Simpson, Darron Gibson, Fraizer Campbell and Ryan Shawcross also played in Belgium while the partnership lasted.

United additionally used Antwerp as a staging post for infamous Chinese flop Dong Fangzhuo while they waited for the striker to be granted a UK work permit.

Elsewhere, United also prominently had an agreement with Fluminense in 2005 that promised to open the door for some of the Brazilian club's youngsters to occasionally train with United in England. First spotted at the age of 15, twin defenders Rafael and Fabio da Silva later made the switch to Old Trafford when they turned 18 in 2008.

1. Chelsea - Vitesse Arnhem

Chelsea have used Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands as a place to send a number of youngsters on loan in recent seasons. Bertrand Traore, Izzy Brown, Dominic Solanke, Lewis Baker and Matt Miazga are just some who've pulled on the black and yellow, while Marco van Ginkel joined Chelsea from Vitesse before himself temporarily returning on loan.

Before Vitesse became involved, Chelsea actually had strong ties with PSV Eindhoven. The informal agreement saw Brazilian defender Alex spend three years on loan in the Eredivisie from 2004 as he waited for a UK work permit to be approved, while Chelsea used the good relations to secure deals for Arjen Robben and Mateja Kezman the same year.

But the relationship did cause some unease as many at the time pointed out PSV's status as former European champions, while Chelsea were then only quite new to the top table.

As of 2017, there are rumours that PSV are looking for new king of feeder club/loan deal relationship with an elite club. There has been mention of Chelsea again, or Tottenham. 

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