The La Liga deal to take its matches to the US will first see Spanish soccer giants Barcelona face Girona in Miami, according to domestic media reports.
According to Catalan daily, Sport, the tie-up between Spain’s top league and US sports and Relevent Sports, the entertainment company owned by Stephen Ross, will see the teams head to Miami for a league fixture on 27th January, 2019 at the Hard Rock Stadium.
The 65,326-seater venue is home to the National Football League’s (NFL) Miami Dolphins, also owned by Ross.
The report states that as the designated home team, 1,500 free flights will be made available to Girona season-ticket holders, with as €500 deposit to be handed down as confirmation of a ticket purchase, with a €600 alternative available with the additional cost going towards a hotel booking. The deposit is then returned after the trip.
One of the options apparently being offered is a flight into the United States that will leave Spain on the same day as the game, before returning to Girona immediately afterwards.
The reported compensation options for Girona fans who choose not to make the trip to Florida for the league match are extraordinary. A further 5,000 free tickets will be given to the club by Barcelona for the two clubs’ first clash of the season, at Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium on 23rd September. In addition, season-ticket holders who choose to accept the free ticket to the Nou Camp fixture rather than flying to the United States to watch the game will be handed a 20 per cent return on the price of their season tickets.
Those who choose neither to attend the away game in Barcelona nor the ‘home’ clash at the Hard Rock Stadium will receive close to 40 per cent of the cost of their season-tickets returned.
The plans for the US fixtures have not been without controversy. A meeting of a group of the league’s players ended with threats of a strike against the proposals.
Players’ union president David Aganzo said afterwards “The problem is the lack of common sense, a schedule where only the export of soccer benefits - nobody counts on the fans.
“We need to fix it with the bosses. The captains are outraged, they're against it, they are unanimous.”
In order for the games to take place, the agreement must be ratified by Fifa, Uefa, Concacaf, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF), the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), Spain's National Sports Council and its foreign ministry.
However, speaking at the time of the unique deal, La Liga 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 US and Canada.”
The La Liga season kicked off on 17th August, with Barcelona and Real Madrid level on points at the top of the table after three rounds of fixtures.