Fed up with watching high priced friendlies in the US involving squad and youth team players? Want to watch a competitive match involving some of the best players in the world?
Then you will love the news that La Liga wants to start to play regular season games in the United States and Canada.
‘Having official matches here, it’s not a matter of if, but when,’ Boris Gartner, CEO of La Liga North America, told reporters last week.
This is not a new idea from La Liga. In 2017, La Liga chief Javier Tebas, who has called the league a ‘global entertainment’ expressed the desire to play matches abroad.
‘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.’
“If the NBA or the NFL play games outside their environment or their countries, why not the Spanish League?
“It is important to develop our brand. It is among our short- or medium-term objectives to bring a game of the Spanish League every year to the United States.”
Before COVID hit, La Liga had entered into a 15-year deal with multinational media company Relevent Sports which the goal of seeing matches played outside of a home country in a top European league for the first time ever.
Relevent Sports are backed by US Stephen Ross, the billionaire owner of NFL team the Miami Dolphins and the move is to drive up sponsorship on the continent.
Ross said, in quotes carried by El Pais:
“The goal of this extraordinary ‘joint venture’ is for the culture of football to grow in the United States. It will be a big step in its growing popularity.”
Chief executive of Relevent Sports Danny Sillman is quoted as saying by the Financial Times:
“Our goal is to get one game off the ground; we’ll see how it proliferates from there.
“One of the opportunities with La Liga is to build a consumer brand which ultimately raises the value of the media rights.
“That’s where the bulk of the money will come from in this transaction. It’s our job to tell their story of their clubs and stars.”
The challenge for La Liga is that FIFA, and Spanish regulators have pushed back on the idea of playing matches in the U.S., and the legal process of holding these matches have prevented any further developments.
If La Liga can get over the regulatory issues, in order to make this attractive to sponsors and to maximize ticket sales, one or more of Spain’s big teams will have to be involved in these overseas matches. Would Barcelona or Real Madrid really be willing to give up the revenue they would make at the Camp Nou or the Bernabeu for a home match in order to have a “home” match in Miami or Beijing?