Plans scrapped for Barcelona to play La Liga fixture in Miami

Barca stand up for the fans

Barcelona have abandoned plans to play their league game against Girona in Miami on 26th January due to a “lack of consensus.”

The Spanish top flight faced scathing criticism after announcing its intentions to move a fixture between Catalan rivals Barcelona and Girona to Miami.

Barcelona were happy to go along with the idea after an agreement was struck to share the revenue earned from the fixture with the other teams in the league.

However, the fixture will now be played in Spain with the Spanish Football Association and players' union voicing their objection, as well as suggestions that FIFA would not sanction the game to be played outside the league’s homeland.

Failure to gain support has led to a withdrawing of Barcelona’s proposal with the club saying: "FC Barcelona were and remain willing to play a La Liga game in Miami, and accepted that income from the game would be shared among all Primera Division and Segunda Division clubs, following the same criteria of television rights money distribution."

Now, this isn’t over by any means with La Liga still keen to play a fixture in the United States and with particular interest in Miami where there is a large volume of Spanish speakers.

La Liga also have an agreement with their TV rights, with a station named Relevant, to play a fixture in the USA within the next 15 years. Amid the postponement of the plans, La Liga said: "We regret to disappoint our fans in the US and will work to, in the shortest possible time, stage an official La Liga game in the US. La Liga will continue the planned action so an official game can be played outside of Spain."

So, for now, the plans are on hold and there will be no La Liga football at the Hard Rock Stadium during this season. But that could be a very different story in the next few years as La Liga strive to push through their masterplan.

But is it a good idea? Should La Liga be pushing through this idea of playing Spanish football outside Spain? Here are the pros and cons.

Gerard Pique Barcelona

How will it benefit La Liga?

Money is always the easy answer to this question. La Liga is a brand as well as a league organisation and the whole aim of this plan is to grow the brand. The soccer business in the US is booming.

MLS are welcoming a host of new clubs over the next two seasons and they are already enjoying success with the clubs they have. Just take Portland Timbers as an example – they have sold out over 150 games in a row at Providence Park.

American fans are embracing soccer, or football as we know it, and La Liga have a unique opportunity in Miami where around 70% of residents speak Spanish as their first language.

Teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona are loved in South Florida, as they are around the world, and La Liga wants to take advantage of that. They want to expose the league as much as possible to bring in more money, but also to generate a bigger audience in general.

We have already seen high-profile friendlies taking place in the US, so the question is whether we really need to play a league game there. That has to be balanced with how much exposure La Liga can get from this, and indeed, how many games end up being played there.In other sports, take the NFL for example, we have seen a similar setup. The NFL currently play three regular season games in London and this year, there were plans to play another in Mexico City, however, pitch conditions later saw this game moved back to the US.

With every team playing 38 games in a La Liga season, what hard would four games do, for example, if supporters were properly compensated and helped financially to travel to the game if they wished to attend.

On that front, it wouldn’t be the end of the world for supporters and the clubs themselves, especially as each club would benefit financially. And don’t forget, for clubs like Huesca, Rayo Vallecano and Eibar, that money would be a huge boost as they look to bridge the gap to the teams above.

Lionel Messi Barcelona

Why is there opposition?

Believe it or not, the opposition to this plan isn’t largely about playing a game outside Spain. Of course, there are plenty of purists who are against the idea for that reason.

There’s also an argument to say it’s unfair for supporters who give their lives to clubs, watching every game, to have a fixture taken away from them.

However, that’s not the main opposition here. What the RFEF (Spanish FA) and Players’ union were furious about it the lack of consultation. The players and fans weren’t asked about this, it was simply dropped upon them as what was going to happen.

That cannot happen. This league only exists because of players, supporters and clubs and those organisations made it quickly clear that they would not become puppets of a corporate organisation.

They have to be asked first and all the organisations have to work together to go about the plan in the right way for all parties.

Luis Suarez Barcelona

So, this plan is likely to happen at some point. You’ll find that most players and clubs will come around to the idea – if they haven’t already - especially if there are incentives.

But it hasn’t worked this time around because, in traditional La Liga fashion, they have gone about implementing the plan in a ridiculous, unthought-out fashion.For an organisation of its size, it just doesn’t work in an intelligent way and they really have become a laughing stock amongst clubs, particularly in the last few years.

La Liga have to win back respect and dropping this sort of news on clubs without consultation certainly hasn’t helped their case.

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