Will La Liga US Game Force Premier League’s Hand?

Barcelona and Girona are exploring the possibility of playing a LaLiga match in the United States for the first time when the teams meet in January. It would be the first time a competitive fixture has been played out of Spain or its associated islands as the teams have reportedly set their sights of playing the contest at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium on January 26. The decision to play the game could have huge consequences for the game itself, allowing teams to expand their revenue streams by playing abroad, increasing the potential of their fanbase in the process. Barcelona are no strangers to playing in the United States due to their commitments in the International Champions Cup, which began in 2013 as part of pre-season. However, playing a competitive match would be a watershed moment and could be huge for the growth of Spanish football.

The Premier League has dominated the global market, signing television deals that blow their rivals out of the water. Chief executive Richard Scudamore proposed the idea of a 39th game, which would be played abroad. However, the English clubs rejected the suggestion and further plans for international matches have been shelved.  The success of the NFL’s international series has seen the game grow tremendously in the United Kingdom, while the NBA followed suit playing one match per season at the 02 Arena. Even the MLB have come around to the idea, beginning the next term when the New York Yankees take on the Boston Red Sox at London Stadium. The NFL’s success has seen the possibility of a London franchise mooted, which could become a reality should Shahid Khan complete a deal to buy Wembley Stadium from the Football Association.

Source: SPORF via Twitter

Despite the commercial gains that the US’ leagues have enjoyed, the Premier League are still reticent to approach the idea. Supporters are not keen to potentially see that could decide the Premier League played out of England. For example, it could have an effect on EPL betting tips due to travel and potential jetlag as many managers have cited in the past just over playing in Europe. Although the NFL teams have the same problem, they also have the bye week presented immediately after playing in London, which gives them time to recover. The Premier League teams are not afforded a similar grace period, while there are also other commitments playing in the Champions League, Europa League and the domestic cups. As a result, the idea of an English team playing in the States appears to be a long way off at the moment.

However, chairman up and down the Premier League will be monitoring the contest between Barcelona and Girona. Should the game be a huge success, bringing significant financial rewards to both teams, then it may be enough to sway opinion. The Premier League dominates the global market for now and the owners will want to keep it that way. Given that many clubs are owned by Americans it would be relatively easy to delve into a particular market, with Manchester City well placed to dominate the biggest of the lot in New York given their empire. The La Liga match could force their hands to make a Premier League match abroad a reality within five years.

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