Last week La Liga announced a 15-year partnership with Relevent Sports which planned to bring regular-season games to the U.S. and Canada over the coming years.
Since then, the backlash against those plans has been fierce, particularly among the players.
Captains and leaders from La Liga teams assembled on Wednesday in a meeting to discuss the matter, with the likes of Sergio Ramos, Sergio Busquets and Koke all present.
The Spanish players’ union, AFE, were with the players at the meeting and their president, David Aganzo, sent out a clear message.
“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,” Aganzo said. “It does not make sense. We are talking about an agreement that has a validity of 15 years without consulting the players.”
When asked about the possibility of a strike by the players, Aganzo added: “We will try not to reach that extreme but we are willing to go to the end if necessary.”
The union will meet again in September, while La Liga said it will meet with them “in the appropriate forum to discuss the plans to play a match outside of Spain.”
La Liga is clearly trying to grow its global brand and to do that you have to try different things. But the uproar from players and the union suggests they were never consulted on the matter and that is their biggest gripe.
The fact of the matter is, if La Liga clubs not named Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid were to travel to the U.S. for a regular-season game then it is unlikely they’d sell plenty of tickets for the game. So, one of the big boys would have to be involved in the games played in the U.S. or Canada and that would mean denying their fans the chance to see them at home.
We’ve seen the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB hosting regular-season games overseas for many years with varying degrees of success. It can work but it has to be done properly and it seems like talks between La Liga and AFE will continue to try and iron out any issues the players have.