LaLiga president Javier Tebas unworried about top clubs' Champions League exits

LaLiga president Javier Tebas. (PHOTO: LaLiga)
LaLiga president Javier Tebas. (PHOTO: LaLiga)

Reporting from Madrid

With viewership figures doubling in the past six years, it is no wonder LaLiga president Javier Tebas can afford to crack a wide smile when asked if he is worried that only one of the Spanish premier league's clubs managed to reach the knockout stages of this season's Champions League.

"If this trend goes on for five or more years, then I will be worried," the 60-year-old said in an interview with Yahoo News Singapore at the league headquarters in Madrid on Tuesday (22 November).

"But just last season, we had two Spanish teams in the Champions League semi-finals, and of course, Real Madrid won the competition. And Spanish clubs have won six out of the last 10 Champions League seasons, so I'm not too concerned about any decline in our league yet."

Tebas is also unperturbed when asked if LaLiga would jump at the opportunity to have global superstars back in its fold, following news that unsettled Cristiano Ronaldo could make a return to Real Madrid and his great rival Lionel Messi could also go back to Barcelona when his Paris Saint-Germain contract ends this season.

"Of course, I wish they can come back. But they are not the only ones that I would want back," he said.

"Jose Mourinho or Pep Guardiola were also big names in the league. But LaLiga has still continued to work without these superstars when they left. LaLiga is more than just about one player.”

Consistently engaging global audience

Tebas' confidence in LaLiga's strength and sustainability may have come from the fact the league has worked hard in the past decade to reach out and engage its global audience consistently.

From staggering its match kick-offs to maximise viewership reach, to partnering grassroots programmes around the world to spread Spain's stylish brand of football, LaLiga has certainly pushed the boundaries of innovation in order to establish itself as a household brand of top-tier football to catch every week.

But it is not resting on its laurels yet. Tebas said the next step in its innovation will be to offer the league's content as an over-the-top (OTT) media service directly to fans via the internet.

"We want to give our fans the ability to personalise the way they consume our content, so this OTT service will enable viewers to watch our league matches, obtain match statistics and replay highlights wherever and whenever they can do so," he said.

"It's an exciting challenge, but one which we look forward to eventually make our league more globalised and accessible to all football fans."

And who knows, there could also be a chance that top LaLiga clashes such as the "El Clasico" between Real Madrid and Barcelona could be held at an overseas location - maybe even at Singapore's National Stadium.

While such matches still have many hurdles to cross before coming into fruition. Tebas has not ruled out such possibilities yet.

"Singapore will be a great place to have a La Liga match but for the moment and we are still working on this possibility," he said.

"We have had conversations with the Spanish Football Association to try and get a match played abroad. In the short term, it is not possible but we will try. We would like the fans abroad to feel the experience of being at a La Liga match."

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