Barcelona president says La Liga should play three games abroad a year

Barcelona had proposed a La Liga fixture with Girona in Miami on 26 January
Barcelona had proposed a La Liga fixture with Girona in Miami on 26 January

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu says La Liga should play three games outside of Spain a year.

Plans to play Girona's home fixture against Barcelona last month in Miami were abandoned due to a "lack of consensus".

The Spanish Football Association and players' union were vocal in objecting to the move.

"If we want La Liga to be strong, we are to play in these games," Bartomeu told BBC Sport.

"At Barca we have sometimes been talking to La Liga and have been telling them that if you want to promote La Liga more and more, then we should have three games of the year outside - one in America, one in the Middle East and one in Asia.

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"We have to go and be closer to the fans. We do the summer tours in July and August to go closer to the fans. It's us showing respect to them, going to Miami would have been respect to our fans in the USA."

La Liga has signed to play one game a season in the US as part of a 15-year deal with media company Relevent. Catalan neighbours Girona and Barcelona had agreed to move their game to the Hard Rock Stadium on 26 January.

The Spanish top flight says it is still planning to stage a league match outside of Spain.

"Of course, we strongly support any club's international ambitions as we certainly share the vision of bringing La Liga action closer to fans everywhere and making La Liga a stronger international brand," the league's chief communications officer Joris Evers told BBC Sport.

"We continue to work towards playing a La Liga match outside of Spain and want to do that as soon as possible. We are working with all stakeholders to make it happen.

"We see this as a logical next step in the growth of our league and as a clear benefit to everyone involved."


Spanish football expert Guillem Balague

Having failed to get the green light to play an official league match overseas, Barcelona president Bartomeu has revealed that his aim is to see a minimum of three La Liga fixtures played out of Spain in three different continents.

Any such plans, however, will be firmly challenged by the Spanish Football Federation.

The Federation's objections stem from the fact that La Liga took it upon themselves to negotiate a 15-year deal with Relevent, a media company, without consulting with the Federation.

The matter is further complicated by the personal differences and antipathy known to exist between La Liga chief Javier Tebas and Federation president Luis Rubiales.

La Liga counters any objections made by the country's football ruling body by citing the Spanish Super Cup that was played in Tangier in Morocco although the Federation, not unreasonably, claim that this is a one-off match rather than an integral part of the league programme.

Now, having been thwarted in their previous attempts, the ante has been upped from the one game that wasn't played in the end, to talk of three games taking place.

Earlier setbacks have only made La Liga all the more determined to get their plans through, not least because they feel they have the backing of the clubs - especially Barcelona - who sense the opportunity to take the La Liga brand to new shores in order to gain new fans, an even higher profile, potential new sponsors and certainly more money.

While Real Madrid for the time being are keeping their powder dry, Bartomeu especially is showing no such reticence and is keen to leave it in place as part of his legacy as president of the club.

The dream of the Catalan club president will undoubtedly create massive waves in Spain and is a further indication of just how much football is going to change over the next few years.

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