Girona v Barca likely to be first LaLiga game in US

BARCELONA • LaLiga chief Javier Tebas has said there is a 90 per cent chance the first Spanish top-flight game in the United States will be Girona's "home" match against champions Barcelona in January, and revealed the league will earn €200 million (S$319 million) for playing games in North America.

Tebas added that English Premier League champions Manchester City, Girona's joint majority shareholders, had encouraged the Catalan side to get involved in the initiative as part of a 15-year deal the league signed with American entertainment company Relevent last month, while insisting that the club were not obliged to play games in America.

"Girona-Barcelona will 90 per cent be played in the US, but the agreement is not about just one game, it's about a process, which is much bigger," Tebas said in an interview with Spanish radio station Onda Cero broadcast on Friday.

"We held a bidding process and various companies got involved. There's no obligation to play one game a year in the US, only the clubs who volunteer to go will go. But this is much more than a game, it's about strategy and sponsorship."

While the game will deprive Girona of a home fixture, Tebas confirmed reports that the club's fans will be offered free flights to the game, set to take place at Florida's 65,000-capacity Hard Rock Stadium, home of the National Football League's Miami Dolphins.

Tebas also revealed City had laid the groundwork for the proposed match to take place.

"The game is designed to help teams that don't have a very big fan base," he said. "Girona are partly owned by City and together with (Dolphins owner) Stephen Ross, they told us Girona were interested. Now several teams with a similar profile to Girona have shown interest because they see it as an opportunity.

"Season-ticket holders will be compensated and there is an opportunity to travel to Miami. Relevent will pay the costs."

Girona, promoted to the top flight for the first time last year, said in a statement they had accepted the offer, which has yet to be officially confirmed. "Understanding that it is a great possibility to expand and grow, not only for the club, but also for our city and our territory," they said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 09, 2018, with the headline 'Girona v Barca likely to be first LaLiga game in US'. Print Edition | Subscribe