The Eagles are playing in London this season.
The Sixers played in London last season.
The NHL and MLB played regular season games in places like Japan, Australia, and Mexico.
Usually it’s us sending our sports teams overseas for meaningful matchups, but it looks like that’s now going to be reciprocated by Spain’s La Liga, which has agreed to begin playing regular season games in the United States.
Relevent, the sports and entertainment company that operates the annual International Champions Cup, has struck a 15-year promotional deal with Spain’s La Liga that includes plans to play at least one league match at a U.S. venue every season.
Charlie Stillitano, Relevent’s executive chairman, told The Insider the sides have begun discussing a single game this season, sometime after Jan. 1, perhaps in Miami and almost certainly involving one of the league’s famous clubs.
“Our goal, our job, our responsibility is to try to build La Liga,” Stillitano said. “We told them, [Relevent] sees the power of regular season games.”
To properly market the match, he added, one of the participating teams would have to be Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla or Valencia (but preferably one of the first three). “And the league knows that,” Stillitano said.
That’s the problem here – people ain’t coming out to see Eibar vs. Celta Vigo in Raleigh. They’ll come out to see Barcelona play somebody in Miami, but why would Barca want a “home game” 5,000 miles from their actual home stadium? And why would their opponent want to fly 5,000 miles instead of taking a short flight or bus ride instead?
Likewise, I’m sure if you asked Jalen Ramsey and Blake Bortles, they’d prefer eight home games in North Florida instead of having to do the London thing again. And look at how the Sixers had to deal with a condensed schedule after they came back from England last season. It was crowded and stuffed with back-to-backs, which wasn’t at all ideal.
But yeah, it’s more than a home game, it’s about growing the brand overseas. That’s always been the push and pull of it. The NFL is starting to get a foothold in the UK and I think it’s gonna be pretty special for Jay Ajayi to play in his hometown this year. We’re living in a time where most things are global and (relatively) logistically feasible, and that’s how sporting executives and business folks see it.
That said, I thought for sure that one of the English Premier League teams with an American owner or connection would be the first to play a regular season game in the USA. Liverpool, Crystal Palace (Josh Harris), or even Arsenal would make sense to host a home game in Boston or New York.
This is intriguing, though. Maybe it’s the start of something bigger.