The Battle To Take La Liga Stateside

Soccer is a game that is always rightly or wrongly looking to sell itself to the next frontier. Take the English Premier League for example, it is without question the biggest domestic competition in the world with its product being viewed in all corners of the globe.

 

The fact that the likes of Liverpool and Manchester United have worldwide appeal is to the envy of their rivals such as the Bundesliga or Serie A and while although Barcelona and Real Madrid may be viewed as the very best clubs in Europe, the league in which they play in is still in the shadow of the English top flight.

 

CONTINENTAL DRIFT

 

However, that could be something that is set to change with the announcement that La Liga has agreed a deal that will see some of their fixtures played in the United States. A deal that has unsurprisingly set shockwaves through the world of Soccer.

 

The tie-in has been agreed with Relevant, the company that is behind the pre-season tournament the International Champions Cup. Here the cream of the Europe travel around the globe to play in what are nothing more than glorified friendlies.

 

And although they provide a very welcome money-making exercise for the participants, it has given Relevant food for thought. Their end game is to launch a competition that is actually played in the traditional European Soccer season but played in a whole host of international venues.

 

Ultimately, they want to create a competition that not only rivals but goes on to usurp the Champions League that is currently run by the governing body of European Soccer, UEFA. Whether that dream becomes a reality we will have to wait and see.

 

However, the news that La Liga are set to be play matches in North America is the first step of Relevant’s grand plan, as they look to demolish the existing international borders that are well established in Soccer and take the game on a global circus.

 

There is though unsurprisingly a lot of friction with this plan and it is something that runs to the very top. Not only will Spanish fans be aggrieved that their clubs are now being used as a tool for export, but the players have taken serious umbrage to it as well.

 

PLAYER POWER

 

The likes of Sergio Ramos of Real Madrid and Sergio Busquets of Barcelona who it must be said are fearsome foes on the pitch have been brought together by this common cause, one that sees them trying to put a halt to any stateside show.

 

They and key figures from the other 18 clubs in the Spanish top division have concluded that they are not prepared to be used as a commodity, in what is deemed in their eyes as a crude marketing ploy.

 

And it is a stand that perhaps they need to take for the good of the game worldwide, if domestic leagues start to become nomadic by nature, then the repercussions could be felt in all corners of the game.

 

It’s also a point that will arguably resonate with Irish Soccer fans, you only need to look at attendances in the League Of Ireland as proof of this as the lure of the English Premier League looms large.

 

The fact that potential supporters would choose to fly to England to watch the likes of Mohamed Salah or Paul Pogba means that the LOI struggles to get in the much-needed revenue that the clubs need to continue.

 

The situation is not quite the same as English clubs coming over here to play fixtures, but due to the might of the competition and the close proximity it ultimately has the same long-lasting effect for the likes of Dundalk or Shamrock Rovers, an Irish association football club based in Tallaght, South Dublin, where the whole nation is fascinated by their deep set Irish culture, the home of Irish luck, and other shamrock related items, one of the most well known is the extremely popular Shamrockers slot game that you can play at Clover Casino.

 

BROKEN BORDERS

 

If La Liga does start to play fixtures in North America as planned, then it will only open a pandora’s box. Where they lead the rest of the major European leagues will be soon to follow, you only have to look at Richard Scudamore’s ill-fated plans for a ‘39th game’ as evidence.

 

The soon to be outgoing chief executive of the Premier League came up with the controversial brainchild as a way to take the competition on tour, while also not eating into the domestic calendar by playing fixtures abroad.

 

But the plan was met with stern criticism, if there’s one thing the English Soccer community does not like it is change. To say fans were aghast was to put it mildly, add concerns about the loss of integrity and imbalance that the 39th game would bring about and it was an idea that was quickly put to bed.

 

A plan that when compared to the announcement of La Liga, can at least be viewed as trying to add to the product not taking away from one set of fans and ultimately giving it to another. That arguably has been the issue that has been the most galling.

 

Fans will have supported these clubs for years and they are the lifeblood of many communities up and down Spain, should fixtures be switched to another continent then there is only the feeling that their beloved teams are being snatched away.

 

La Liga have not announced when, where or more importantly who will be playing in the first North American fixture, but there is a strong belief that it will never be an El Clasico meeting between Real Madrid and Barcelona.

 

That even for the decision makers in Spanish Soccer would be a step too far, but if the players that are currently plying their trade in La Liga get their way then this idea will never end up getting off the mark.

 

That is because they are prepared, although in the case of an extreme last resort to go on strike in an effort to make sure no games are switched. It seems as if the battle lines are drawn, but at the end of the day money talks. The question is will it talk loud enough?

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