"Setting a 5-yr road map to widen LaLiga base in India"


JAVIER TEBAS is the president of the Spanish Football League LaLiga. The Costa Rican born Spaniard, who took over as LaLiga president in April 2013, has addressed several of the league's key issues, including match-fixing, distribution of TV revenue and the clubs' collective debt since taking charge.
The practicing lawyer, who owns sport law firm Tebas&Coiduras and Associates, is in India on a visit and outlines to 
SportzPower the league's plans to grow its brand and popularity in this market.

In global standings, LaLiga is considered the most popular football league in the world, but in India it is clearly the Premier League (second globally) that has a long entrenched and continuosly growing fan base here. What are your plans to grow the LaLiga brand in this market?
For starters, a clear indication of how important this market is to us is that we will be opening the first La Liga office in India later this year. It will be either in Delhi or Mumbai, we are yet to finalise that. This will be LaLiga's fourth office in Asia after Beijing, Shanghai and Dubai.

What about fan engagement activities? Will we get to see LaLiga teams playing exhibition matches here or the like?
There are a number of possible options we are looking at. We are in fact in the process of putting together a five-year action plan aimed at expanding our popularity in India. We are working closely with our Indian broadcast partner Sony Pictures Networks India (SPN) to finalise the way forward. 

Could you provide some details?
For one, we are planning exhibition matches where we will be bringing down LaLiga legends to India. Going forward, we could also have LaLiga clubs in action here. 

That is not all, we are committed to growing the game at the grassroots level and we are planning activities not just in the big cities but lower down in tier 2 cities as well.

When you speak of Tier 2 cities, I am assuming the focus would be on the pockets in India where football has a strong foothold, like West Bengal, Goa, Kerala and the North-East for instance?
It would be on those lines yes. But as I already stated, we would take inputs from our partners at SPN before firming up on exactly how we want to go forward.

(SPN  last August acquired three-year LaLiga telecast rights across India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Maldives)

Speaking of viewership, how has the growth been in India in particular and Asia as a whole? 
I can discuss Asia figures, and that has grown 40% just in the last one year. About India, Sony can answer.

What of your digital presence?
Our social media following has doubled worldwide in last one year and the largest chunk has come from Asia. 

Asia has a significant role to play in La Liga's global expansion. We have far more followers in Asia than the rest of the world.

1.2 billion collectively follow La Liga on social media. That is including all players, La Liga clubs and league itself. LaLiga's biggest draw is Christiano Ronaldo, who has over 100 million followers.