La Liga and the 39th Fixture
While the Premier League struggles to convince English football fans and the wider community around the world that a 39th fixture would give its product greater popularity, La Liga has taken a similar initiative and gone one better. From the 2010-11 season, Spanish teams will play an extra fixture in a series of venues around the globe to promote its already familiar brand.
In a statement released today, Tonto De Abril, LFP spokesman, revealed that negotiations have been taking place during the last nine weeks with numerous football federations around the world and a series of agreements are now in place. As a result, the following cities will host a '39th game' (or 'El Juego 39' as it's known in Spain) at the end of the 2011 campaign:Bogota, Colombia
Umtata, South Africa
Seoul, South Korea
The sheer variety in these locations is quite deliberate, according to De Abril.
"We want to bring Spanish football to the many people around the world who so far could only have dreamed it or watched on their TV's. 'El Juego 39' has been welcomed in countries from Russia to South Africa and we believe our different cultures will combine to bring excitement to the fans of our respective nations."
The surprising element to this announcement comes amid defiant resistance to the idea first put forward by Premier League Chief Executive, Peter Scudamore. It's thought the Spanish authorities were prepared to do much more to promote the game in the countries where their own version of the 39th Game will be played in direct contrast to the English representatives who seemed merely intent on showcasing the English game and nothing more.
Reaction to the announcement in Madrid has been mixed with many people pleased to see the Spanish League promoted around the world in preference to the Premier League, while others were noticeably against the idea.
The popularity of the scheme, however, may rest on the date selected for the final game of the 2010-11 Spanish season to be played on. The suggestion of April 1st is proving to be controversial and is expected to be reviewed in the interim period.
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