US Sports broker Relevent Sports’ plans to take a competitive regular season La Liga fixture out of Spain and into the United States has been derailed after FC Barcelona withdrew its support.
The company owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and operated by the man behind the International Champions Cup Charlie Stillitano agreed a 15-year deal with La Liga earlier in the season.
The deal agreed to allow one La Liga match to be played in the United States each season as a brand building exercise.
Javier Tebas is desperate to gain a higher market share in the US market as he tries to close the financial gap with the Premier League.
The first game was arranged this season and was set to see Girona face fellow Catalan side Barcelona at the home of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins on January 26th 2019.
Despite fan concern there were suggestions that free flights and accommodation would be on offer for fans who were prepared to make the trip.
The proposal was condemned by a number of stakeholders including the Spanish Football Association, UEFA and Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez.
Whilst, FIFA president Gianni Infantino also said in October that he would block any attempt to take a La Liga out if Spain.
A number of high profile La Liga players even threatened strike, if the plans went ahead.
Perseverance and Future
Tebas and La Liga are expected to persevere with their proposal to play a league match outside of Spain.
Despite the withdrawal Barça announced via Twitter that they remain open to the possibility in the future if a suitable agreement can be met.
They said: ‘’Barça were and still are willing to play in Miami, but consider that the project will not prosper until there is an agreement between all parties involved.’’
La Liga later issued their response where they accepted Barca’s decision but also stated the deal with Relevant will go ahead with or without Barcelona.
They stated: “From La Liga we want to congratulate FC Barcelona and Girona FC for their willingness to be pioneers in the voluntary intention to play a La Liga match outside of Spain,” their statement read.
“The La Liga project with Relevent, signed for 15 years, continues. From the first moment we stated that participation in the game is voluntary and if FC Barcelona expresses its voluntary wish not to attend, this game scheduled in Miami cannot be held on the agreed date.
“From La Liga we regret, as it could not be otherwise, the disappointment that may occur among our fans in the USA. We want to convey to all of them that, in the shortest possible time, La Liga will play an official match in the USA, just like the major American leagues [NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL] outside their borders.
“La Liga will continue with the planned demand to claim that a match can be played outside of Spain, although it withdraws the precautionary measure referring to the specific match of January 26.”
It remains unclear whether Girona would still be open to playing in Miami without the pull of Barcelona, which is likely to seriously impact the interest and success.