Rovers have agreed a Stateside partnership they hope will provide long-term commercial and football opportunities.

The news comes in the same week the club agreed a similar arrangement with Singapore-based British Football Academy as it looks to expand in to new territories.

Rovers are keen to explore new markets and avenues to grow the club on and off the field, with Academy chief Stuart Jones instrumental in setting up both agreements.

The latest link-up is with New York based Eastern FC, and comes at a time when Jones believes football in America is showing real signs of growth.

And with that, Jones hopes Rovers may be able to attract young prospects to the club’s Academy and possibly beyond.

He said: “It’s an exciting opportunity where we can grow together and develop things for the football club, not just for the Academy.

“I see real commercial opportunities as well as football opportunities.

“There is also the recruitment element, because we don’t have the resources out on the other side of the world, so it’s an opportunity to identify potential talent to come into the football club as well, which is important.

“It’s another new market for us, where there is plenty of talented players.

“The MLS is getting bigger, the game of soccer is growing and so we see it as a real opportunity.

While the Singapore arrangement was built on the club’s close links with Moorland School and the Community Trust, Jones revealed that Ray Franklin, who runs Eastern FC, was instrumental in this latest agreement.

“Eastern FC are based on the outskirts of New York and are run by a guy called Ray Franklin, who moved over there from Liverpool about 40 years ago,” he explained.

 “Ray came over to the UK on a tour a few years ago and asked if they could come in to have a look at our facilities and play a game against one of our youth teams.

 “We have kept in contact ever since – sharing knowledge and ideas – and earlier this year I went over to meet Ray and the coaching team over there and the concept of having a partner club was discussed.

 Jones believes that Rovers’ Category One Academy status enables them to be an attractive proposition to partners, and feels their beliefs, as well as coaching expertise, can really help grow the game in the United States.

The Rovers youngsters are no strangers to trips overseas, with the Under-18s travelling to Madrid in the summer, while the Under-23s will also get a taste of foreign opposition having entered the Premier League International Cup for the first time.

On what benefits the partnership could bring, Jones explained: “We’ve spoken about the possibility of Eastern FC putting on a pro tournament over there, with a lot of the youth MLS clubs and our Under-18s or Under-16s could potentially form part of that.

“We can develop key camps and programmes that will benefit both Rovers and Eastern FC.

 “We will share the resources we have in our programme, our sessions, our coaching philosophy and how we work.

“It’s a case of giving them some ideas and them sharing their experiences with us.

“Ultimately, it’s about growing the brand of the football club in another part of the world and working closely with Eastern FC, who have a fantastic youth system for developing players.”

As well as player development, and producing players for the Rovers first-team, the Academy also places an emphasis on providing avenues in the game that youngsters may otherwise not have thought of.

That will now include the chance offer players who may fall short of being offered a scholarship at 16, or professional terms at 18, the chance to go and further their education, and football, in the US given the newly acquired links.

“The partnership also allows us to develop links with universities and colleges in the USA, where Eastern FC can help us identify potential scholarships for some of our Under-18s who don’t get offered professional contracts and are interested in playing in the USA,” said Jones, who replaced Eric Kinder in 2017

“This is now becoming more of an option for young players and provides a fantastic exit strategy for us to support those players who leave our Academy system.”