La Liga to Play First Game in United States or Canada via New Marketing Deal


La Liga game is set to play a regular season game in the United States or Canada for the first time after the league reached an agreement with Relevent on a 15-year joint venture, called LaLiga North America, for promotion within North America, according to ESPN FC.

Relevent is a multinational media, sports and entertainment company, owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross.

“This extraordinary joint venture is the next giant leap in growing soccer’s popularity in North America,” Ross, the Relevent chairman and owner, said. “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.”

“It’s not hard to figure out where we would want it to be based on our ownership with Stephen Ross,” Relevent CEO Danny Sillman said (h/t ESPN FC). “That part isn’t too difficult to figure out. [The match will be held] much sooner than the public is expecting.”

“We’re devoted to growing the passion for soccer around the world,” La Liga president Javier Tebas said. “This ground-breaking agreement is certain to give a major impulse to the popularity of the beautiful game in the U.S. and Canada. Relevent has filled stadiums across the U.S. with the International Champions Cup, [and] we’re thrilled to partner with them on a joint mission to grow soccer in North America.”

LaLiga North America will be led by Boris Gartner, formerly the head of strategy at Televisa and former exec with Univision, and will also handle the sale of media rights in North America once the deal with beIN SPORTS expires at the end of the 2019-20 season.

“The [North America] media rights now sell for about $120 million to beIN, and if you look at the upticks of the other leagues — the EPL doubled, the Champions League doubled — even if we grew 15 to 20 percent a year, you’re talking [a total of] $2 billion just in media value,” Sillman said.

The deal had been in the works for close to a year.

“Obviously, they want to maximize their distribution, so we’ll be moving very quickly with Tebas, getting in the marketplace, and understanding what the broadcast and streaming partners are looking for,” Sillman said.

“La Liga works with Facebook in India and a bunch of the digital players as well. We’ll start to figure out the best way to carve up the rights from the digital and live broadcast in Spanish, English, and French for the U.S. and Canada and start to move fairly fast on putting a strategy together.”

“Tebas saw what we did with El Clasico [in Miami] as a part of our ICC tournament last summer,” Sillman said. “Our ability to tell the story of the history behind the clubs, the league, and the matchups really [helped] build a great spectacle for American fans.

“The [regular-season] match will be a big piece of the joint venture as well. With the precedent set for American sports to be exported all over the world — MLS going to Japan, the NBA in Europe, the NFL in Mexico and Europe — there still hasn’t been anything with European football in the States, so it’s going to be really exciting from that standpoint to import the games to American fans and give them a chance to see it up close for those who may not get the chance to see it in Spain.”