La Liga, the top flight of Spanish club soccer, has announced that it will hold competitive league fixtures in the United States.
The plan, which is part of a joint venture between La Liga and Relevent Sports - a US sports and entertainment company backed by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, has been designed in order to secure greater worldwide revenue streams.
According to British daily The Financial Times, the first games could take place as early as this season.
The joint endeavour is a 15-year agreement, with an anticipation that the partnership will grow in time, with an increasing number of Spanish teams playing matches in the US in the coming years.
The scheme also seeks to challenge the popularity stronghold of leagues, such as English soccer’s Premier League, which is well-watched in the US. It is hoped that the agreement to bring Spain’s top-tier league to the country will increase revenues through sponsorship and media rights in North America.
It has not yet been confirmed which matches will take place in the US, nor how many teams will take part in the initial stages of the partnership, with the venues also yet to be chosen.
Danny Sillman, chief executive of Relevent, added: “Our goal is to get one game off the ground; we’ll see how it proliferates from there.
“One of the opportunities with La Liga is to build a consumer brand which ultimately raises the value of the media rights. That’s where the bulk of the money will come from in this transaction. It’s our job to tell their story of their clubs and stars.”
Speaking about 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.”
La Liga North America, a newly founded organisation, will further grow the status of the Spanish league in both the US and Canada. Alongside the pioneering regular season fixtures, the partnership will see the development of youth academies and coaches, marketing agreements and activations.
Ross, chairman and owner of Relevent, added: “This extraordinary joint venture is the next giant leap in growing soccer’s popularity in North America. This unique relationship will create new opportunities for millions of North American soccer fans to experience the most passionate, exciting, and highest level of soccer in the world.”
Relevent also founded the International Champions Cup (ICC) five years ago, the pre-season tournament that has seen major European clubs facing each other all around the globe.
The La Liga season kicks off on 17th August, with Girona taking on Real Valladolid.