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.
The 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.
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, the Relevent chairman, Charlie Stillitano, said “the future is to do official [league] games in the US, China and other places”.
“There are leagues that are talking to us about potentially doing something in the future,” he added.
The proposals are reminiscent of the Premier League’s controversial “39th game” initiative, which were shelved in 2008 after widespread opposition.
Speaking in July, the 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.
“If it did, it wouldn’t be a 39th game ... but there is no prospect of it happening any time soon. We have no time set for it but I am a man of belief. I thought it was the right thing to do, I still do.”
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 keen to follow suit.
Europe’s major football leagues have yet to arrange fixtures overseas, although the Supercoppa Italiana – Italy’s version of the Community Shield –has been played in the USA, China and Qatar.
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