La Liga con­sider over­seas fixtures

The Irish Times - Sports Weekend - - SOCCER - NIALL McVEIGH

Foot­ball au­thor­i­ties in Spain are con­sid­er­ing plans to stage La Liga matches over­seas, with the pro­posal set to be dis­cussed by the league’s 20 clubs.

La Liga pres­i­dent Javier Te­bas has con­firmed that dis­cus­sions are on­go­ing as the Span­ish top divi­sion seeks greater fi­nan­cial rev­enues from in­ter­na­tional au­di­ences, in­clud­ing broad­cast­ing and spon­sor­ship deals.

“La Liga is global en­ter­tain­ment and we want to grow [the league’s] in­ter­na­tional ap­peal,” Te­bas told the Fi­nan­cial Times. “As part of that ef­fort we are dis­cussing the op­tion of play­ing some of the league matches out­side of Spain.”

Reg­u­lar sea­son La Liga matches could po­ten­tially be held abroad, most likely in the USA or China, as soon as next year.

Relevent Sports, a US-based pro­moter who founded the In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup (ICC) pre-sea­son com­pe­ti­tion four years ago, is thought to have pitched the idea of over­seas league games to sev­eral foot­ball leagues.

Over­seas clásico

ICC matches were held in the USA, Sin­ga­pore and China this sum­mer, with Barcelona and Real Madrid meet­ing in Mi­ami for an over­seas clásico fix­ture.

Speak­ing at this week’s Soc­cerex event in Manch­ester, Relevent chair­man Char­lie Stil­li­tano said “the fu­ture is to do of­fi­cial [league] games in the US, China and other places.”

The pro­pos­als are rem­i­nis­cent of the Premier League’s con­tro­ver­sial ‘39th game’ ini­tia­tive, which were shelved in 2008 after wide­spread op­po­si­tion.

Speak­ing in July, Premier League chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Scu­d­amore said no plans were cur­rently in place to stage league matches abroad. “There is no [cur­rent] plan to do it,” Scu­d­amore said.

“The clubs would like to do it but we are also re­al­is­tic that says un­til the re­ac­tion is any more warm, it won’t hap­pen,” he added.

Play­ing reg­u­lar sea­son games abroad has proved a suc­cess for the NFL, with 16 games held at Wem­b­ley Sta­dium since 2007 and five more sched­uled to be played over­seas in 2017 – at Wem­b­ley, Twick­en­ham and Mex­ico City’s Es­ta­dio Azteca. The NBA have held games at Lon­don’s O2 Arena, with Ma­jor League Base­ball (MLB) keen to fol­low suit.

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