LaLiga ponders taking league matches to US and China

September 12 – The Premier League’s 39th game proposal rapidly became a non-starter when it received a barrage of criticism when mooted in 2012. Although ruled out again this Summer by CEO Richard Scudamore, clubs are not cold on the idea of playing league games overseas. But it could be the LaLiga that is first to break the traditional boundaries.

Speaking to the Financial Times, LaLiga’s mercurial president Javier Tebas said that the league’s clubs had discussed playing matches as part of their regular season in foreign countries, with China and the USA being the most likely destinations.

The proposal could become a reality as early as the 2018/19 season with Tebas indicting that clubs were in favour of the proposals.

The motivation for playing in overseas markets is primarily financial, with a view to supporting improved TV deals as well as regional sponsorships and partnerships.

The success of the pre-season International Champions Cup in the US and Asia again proved the appetite for football fans to see the big clubs, with the Miami version of El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid being a highlight and example of how a week of promotional activity leading into the match can generate enthusiasm and business opportunities.

LaLiga has increased its presence in the US with a New York office working closely with clubs and grassroots football on the playing side, laying the groundwork for the commercial push. LaLiga has a coaching initiative with leading club association US Soccer which has more than 500,000 members.

Quite how any overseas LaLiga schedule would shape up is unclear. Playing repeated El Clasicos is an obvious home run, but unlikely. However, with a number of lower ranked LaLiga teams failing to attract large support in their own stadia, the opportunities are clear, especially if matched up against one of Spain’s giant clubs in a meaningful league fixture.

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