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'El Clasico should always be so people in Asia or the US can watch' - Tebas outlines his vision for La Liga's expansion

17:07 GMT+4 26/11/2019
Lionel Messi Dani Carvajal Barcelona Real Madrid
The league's president is eager to transform the competition into a global product

La Liga president Javier Tebas is eager to see the Spanish top-flight become the most popular competition in the world, with extra importance placed on the scheduling of El Clasico.

Tebas assumed control of La Liga back in 2013, and quickly set about making radical changes to the fixture list in order to reach a wider audience.

Matches used to take place in the evenings and always over the weekend, but La Liga has adopted a more staggered approach to scheduling under Tebas.

Fixtures have been stretched to run from Friday to Monday in recent years, with some matches taking place in the morning so that they can be screened live both at home and abroad.

The new system has faced plenty of opposition, with Deportivo Alaves among the clubs to protest the decision to broadcast some matches on Monday nights.

The Spanish Football Federation eventually intervened and ruled that Monday evening fixtures would be scrapped ahead of the 2019-20 season.

Tebas' vision suffered another major blow when Real Madrid's home clash with arch-rivals Barcelona was moved from Saturday October 26 to Wednesday December 18, due to political unrest in Catalunya.

The match will take now take place at 7pm GMT (2pm ET) , which means viewers in Asia will have to stay up until the early hours of the morning to tune in because of the time difference.

Tebas ultimately decided to drop legal proceedings against the final decision, but insists compromises must be made regarding El Clasico in future to ensure La Liga expands its reach into the Far East and the United States.

“Of the two Clasicos there are in a season, one should always be so people in Asia can watch without being asleep and the other should always be so people in the US can watch without being asleep,” the 57-year-old told The Guardian.

“It is important to recognise that the followers of Spanish football are not just people who live in Spain.

"We must also respect the fans who are in Asia and the Americas – they are also contributing because they pay for their TV subscriptions, which in turn allows the clubs to pay big stars and helps turns La Liga into a global product.”

Spain's top two leagues are forecast to earn more than €2 billion (£1.7bn/$2.2bn) from TV rights at the end of the current campaign, which is still a long way behind the Premier League.

England's top tier is expected to rake in around £9 billion ($11.6bn) from its existing three-year broadcasting deal, but Tebas thinks that gap will close in the near future due to the new ways in which audiences are consuming content online.

“Our cumulative global audience figure is more than 3.2 billion but what that means is hard to say given the concept of an audience is changing,” he added.

“Now it is also about ‘users’ and the minutes they are consuming your content. It could be people who are watching La Liga matches but it could also be people who are watching highlights on another device.

"This is a growing trend and why, as well as working to grow our audience, we are working towards having more users. I’m convinced in 10 years nobody will be talking about audience figures – instead we’ll be talking about users.”