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Barcelona to bid for Miami MLS franchise

MIAMI (Reuters) - Spanish giants Barcelona are to launch a bid to become co-owners of a Major League Soccer franchise in Miami, the Catalan club said on Tuesday.

Barca will announce details of their aim to bring the MLS back to South Florida in Miami on Wednesday, they said on their website (

“The idea is to set up an investee company involving FC Barcelona and a Bolivian entrepreneur living in Miami, Marcelo Claure, who is the chief of an investment group featuring Americans and citizens of different South American countries,” the statement said.

“Claure is already the owner of FC Bolivar, with whom FC Barcelona already collaborate. The company’s sole aim right now is present an application for a franchise and promote it to the MLS”.

MLS currently has 14 teams with Seattle joining in 2009 and Philadelphia in 2010. The league plans to add two more sides for the 2011 season.

The deadline for applications for those two slots is on Wednesday.

Miami Fusion played in the MLS from 1998 to 2001 but lost their place, along with fellow Floridians Tampa Bay Mutiny, when the league was reduced in size.

The failure of the Fusion to take root was largely blamed on their stadium which was based in the neighbouring city of Fort Lauderdale, a long journey for the urban Latin community the league had hoped to attract.

The MLS is keen for new franchises to play at soccer-specific venues and Barca said they were already in talks with Florida International University.

“The most likely solution will be Florida International University, with whom negotiations are already at a late stage as the potential club seeks to use the facility for at least the first two years of its existence,” the club said.

A number of cities, including Atlanta, Portland, St. Louis, Vancouver and Ottawa have expressed interest in gaining an MLS franchise.