Football: La Liga set to go on charm offensive to woo football fans worldwide

Spanish football league La Liga president Javiar Tebas speaks during the Sportel Asia conference in Singapore on March 16, 2016.
Spanish football league La Liga president Javiar Tebas speaks during the Sportel Asia conference in Singapore on March 16, 2016.PHOTO: AFP

La Liga is going on a charm offensive, aiming to woo viewers as it attempts to take on the popularity of the English Premier League (EPL), said its president Javier Tebas.

Spanish teams are considered the best in the world, with three of the last five Champions League winners and the last seven Fifa Ballon d'Or winners hailing from Spain.

Despite this, La Liga still lags behind the EPL in terms of commercial success and popularity. For example, La Liga's broadcast rights from 2016 to 2019 netted the league US$3.25 billion (S$4.5 billion) - less than half of the US$7.2 billion the Premier League got.

Speaking at sports marketing and media convention SportelAsia at the Shangri-La Hotel on Wednesday,Tebas detailed the league's initiatives to close the gap to the EPL over the next few years.

One crucial part of the plan is implementing earlier kick-offs to accommodate audiences in Asia. In 2015, the 5pm start (12 midnight Singapore time) was moved to 4.30pm. Tebas stated that in the 2016-2017 season, the start time will be moved even earlier to 4pm (11pm Singapore time). There will also be kick-offs at noon and 1pm local time on weekends.

Tebas also highlighted plans to have staggered kick-offs. There will also be half-an-hour pre-game shows which will be unique to each region.

Teams will also be given a manual on how to maximise the appearance of their stadiums in order to increase the visual quality of La Liga matches.

Tebas stressed that the La Liga would be paying more attention to global outreach. This includes initiatives to boost the profiles of teams other than Barcelona and Real Madrid, as well as having La Liga ambassadors who will travel the world to publicise the league.

There will also be more official screenings of La Liga games worldwide such as the live screening of the Madrid derby which took place in Cape Town, South Africa, on Feb 27.

Said Tebas: "The satisfaction of La Liga fans is the most important to us. Through our plan, we hope to be able to bring the La Liga closer to fans worldwide."

aleysaj@sph.com.sg