September 5 – Spain’s La Liga is pushing ahead with its plans to take a regular season match to the US with media reports saying the first overseas game will be an all-Catalonian affair between giants FC Barcelona and Girona at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on January 27 next year.
A LaLiga statement said: “At this time we cannot confirm the clubs, location or timing of the match. Just that we are working with all involved, clubs, players, fans, institutions to make this happen and for all to be able to enjoy it.”
Last month the Spanish topflight struck a deal with Relevent, the sports and entertainment group that runs the International Champions Cup (ICC) pre-season tournament, to stage a regular La Liga game overseas, as part of the league’s aggressive international marketing drive.
In Spain the players union reacted negatively, expressing grave concern about players’ welfare, and threatening to strike, though this is unlikely to derail LaLiga’s planned US expansion.
While ICC competition has seen Spanish teams meet in the US – most notably an El Clasico match-up in Miami in 2017 – an FC Barcelona vs Girona match in Miami late in January 2019 would be the first-ever La Liga game to be played outside of Europe.
Indeed, it would be the first ever Big-5 European league match to be played outside national boundaries. The Premier League toyed with the idea of going abroad in the form of a 39th Premier League game, but the proposal met with fierce resistance from fans in particular, and was shelved.
Spanish reports say Girona, owned by the City Football Group, would make €4 million by offering up their home fixture – far more than they make if they stage the game.
Fans would also be compensated with Girona season ticket holders are faced with a number of different scenarios, including free flights for 1,500 supporters to attend the fixture and free hotels for an overnight stay. Both the flights and hotels must be secured by refundable deposits.
Alternatively Girona fans who don’t want to to Florida, will be offered one of 5,000 tickets for the reverse fixture at the Nou Camp in September as well as a 20% refund on their season ticket. Those who neither wish to travel to Miami nor Barcelona will have 40% of their season ticket price refunded.
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