Spain steps up masterplan to eclipse Premier League

Euro Zone

La Liga's attempt to go head to head with the Premier League in the Asian market by switching games to 3pm on a Saturday afternoon will happen this season, Spanish League officials have admitted.

The plan to move some La Liga games to traditional English kick-off times was confirmed by the Spanish League director, Francisco Roca, who said: "The short-term aim is to give games a time slot that allows for maximum exposure in Asia. This season we can begin to have games in Spain at 3pm local time, which will be 9pm prime time in China."

Until now live English football has dominated TV schedules in Asia and the Real Madrid director Emilio Butragueno admitted that the only way for Spain to compete was to alter its fixture programme. He said: "We have to understand that there is tremendous potential to make our league universal by exporting it in this way."

The Barcelona coach, Pep Guardiola, gave a somewhat sarcastic response to the proposals yesterday saying: "If it suits [Real Madrid president] Florentino Perez to play games at this time then we will play them," although he also admitted: "If it benefits all clubs then it is very welcome."

Some fan organisations have complained that the change goes against tradition but Butragueno said: "In the past we have had games at 4.30 local time. I don't think there will be a problem because it is a good time for families." Roca, the league head, refused to speculate over whether the first trial mid-afternoon games would involve Real Madrid and Barcelona. He said: "First of all we need to talk to all the clubs and all the relevant televisió*companies."

Real Madrid have the most expensive team in history and Barcelona the most successful over one season, and their duel is seen as the perfect platform to launch La Liga globally but there are fears that the title race will be the most two-sided in history.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have both taken maximum points from their opening fixtures and are already 10 points ahead of two of the teams tipped to stay within touching distance in the first half of the season, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid.

Players from both Real and Barça have already admitted privately that the league will be decided on 29 November in the Nou Camp and on 11 April in the Bernabeu when the two teams face each other.

Tonight the procession should continue with Real Madrid hosting Tenerife, who have never won a top-flight league game at the Bernabeu, and Barcelona travelling to Malaga.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been included in Barça's squad, although he could start from the bench after picking up a knock against Racing Santander while the defender Pepe returns for Real Madrid after serving a 10-game ban for kicking out at Getafe's Francisco Casquero.

Spotlight on... Diego Milito

One of countless Argentine players currently being ignored by the national team coach, Diego Maradona, the Internazionale's striker Diego Milito is having another superb season in Italy. Milito hit 21 goals last season for Genoa, earning him a move to Jose Mourinho's Inter, and he scored his fifth goal in as many games to help send his side top in midweek.

Milito was overlooked during the last round of World Cup qualifiers because Maradona recalled 35-year-old Martin Palermo, the Boca Juniors forward who had not represented his country for nine years. Milito has formed an eight-goal strike partnership with Samuel Eto'o and they will lead Inter's attack against Sampdoria this evening. Inter's owner, Massimo Moratti, has described them as the best strike pair in Europe.

They're all talking about... a Galacticos theme park

The Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez, came clean this week over plans to turn the club's training ground into a theme park and Barcelona were involved in a spying scandal.

Perez admitted that he will look to dedicate 110 hectares of land on the Valdebebas training complex to a Disney-style tourist attraction with work starting as early as 2010 and other similar projects in Asia and the US to follow.

Meanwhile Barcelona fans had altogether more sinister things on their minds. Four of the club's vice-presidents have been spied on ahead of elections at the end of the season, though Barcelona insist the current president, Joan Laporta, was not the man who instructed private firm Metodo 3 to investigate Rafael Yuste, Jaume Ferrer, Joan Boix and Joan Franquesa.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A view of today's Spanish papers
Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
Arts and Entertainment
Pink Floyd on stage at Live 8 in 2005. From left to right: David Gilmour, Roger Waters, Nick Mason and Rick Wright
music New album The Endless River set to overtake boyband for most pre-ordered of all-time
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch films his performance as Smaug in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

nflAtlanta Falcons can't count and don't know what the UK looks like
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London