LaLiga set for regular season game in US

16 Aug 2018

By: Sport Industry Group

LaLiga has agreed a major north American deal that will see a regular season game played in the US or Canada for the first time, according to local reports.

In what will be seen as further evidence of its threat to the Premier League's global dominance, the Spanish rightsholder has signed a 15-year joint promotional partnership with Relevent, a multinational media, sports and entertainment company.

Relevant was selected over an 18-month pitch process. The firm, whose owner Steven Ross also owns NFL franchise Miami Dolphins, has heralded the deal as “the next giant leap in growing soccer's popularity in north America.

Ross told ESPN: "This unique relationship will create new opportunities for millions of north American soccer fans to experience the most passionate, exciting, and highest level of soccer in the world."

LaLiga president Javier Tebas said: "We're devoted to growing the passion for soccer around the world.

"This ground-breaking agreement is certain to give a major impulse to the popularity of the beautiful game in the U.S. and Canada. 

"Relevent has filled stadiums across the U.S. with the International Champions Cup, and we're thrilled to partner with them on a joint mission to grow soccer in north America."

The new venture will be called LaLiga North America and will be led by Boris Gartner, formerly the head of strategy at Televisa. The organisation will represent the league in the US and Canada in all business and development activities. 

Its mandate will include supporting the league's growth through the establishment of youth academies, development of youth soccer coaches, marketing agreements, consumer activations, and exhibition matches.

LaLiga North America will also manage broadcast rights sales in north America following the end of beIN SPORTS existing deal next season.

The move follows years of speculation and negotiations surrounding the prospect of a regular season Premier League game being staged in the United States.

The English league currently boasts the continent's highest valued football broadcast rights.

MediaCom Sport & Entertainment VP Misha Sher was among those to comment on the impact of the deal. He said: “This is a huge move not just for La Liga, but for football in general. After the Premier League failed to drum up any support for matches played abroad a few years ago, this represents a big feather in the cap for the Spanish league and a strategic win to bridge the gap with the English game.

"Not only will La Liga be the first to do this, but they will do so in the most lucrative consumer market. For all the talk of Asia’s potential - which shouldn’t be underestimated - it’snorth America where the fans have a far greater disposable income to spend on tickets, merchandise and subscriptions.

“From a commercial point of view, this is a no-brainer. It will help La Liga and its clubs bring in more sponsors and allow those clubs to charge them more money. This deal goes much further than a one off game, though. It appears there’s a clear plan to engage young people, so over time, this is a strategy that will tap into a new generation of fans as well laying a foundation to identify future players.

“It’s not often that anyone steals a march on the Premier League, but this is exactly what La Liga has done; playing matches abroad will almost certainly become the norm for big leagues in five years’ time.”

The LaLiga announcement came as OTT platform ESPN+ revealed it has snapped up multi-year rights to the FA Cup and Community Shield in the US market.

Meanwhile Facebook continues to invest in live football with reports it has acquired rights to a number of UEFA Champions League games in Latin America this season.