La Liga president Tebas: Premier League remains the competition to beat

La Liga president Javier Tebas has conceded that the Premier League is still the No. 1 competition despite the growth of the Spanish league under his seven-year stewardship.

Tebas highlighted some of La Liga's successes but also cited areas where English football has more economic power.

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"We have expanded even to Mongolia and Greenland, it is a symbolic fact not so much an economic one as the revenues from there are minimal, but in short, since June, La Liga can be seen everywhere in the world," Tebas told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"Our next aim is that we want to beat the Premier [League]. We have La Liga offices all over the world, hundreds of people working with us. It is important to be present in the most populated and rich countries to promote, to try to expand, to find local sponsors that will help us grow economically."

The economic gap between La Liga and the Premier League has narrowed since Tebas took the helm of the Spanish football league in 2013.

"In seven years we have multiplied La Liga's worth," Tebas said. "[Our] revenues from domestic TV rights have grown from €236 million, when I arrived in 2013, to almost €800m. The international ones have increased from €550m to almost €1.2 billion.

"We have a 40 [officially 46] million population, we don't have the public that Great Britain has which is almost 70m. This counts when it comes to domestic TV rights. And then, for example, we still have to work on foreign markets, such as Asia, where we are growing but there is still a lot to do compared to the Premier [League]."

Tebas has faced resistance from Spain's Football Federation and FIFA in his attempts to stage La Liga games in the United States.

La Liga signed a 15-year marketing agreement with Relevent Sports in order to promote the sport in North America and expand its brand.

Meanwhile, Tebas is hopeful that Barcelona captain Lionel Messi will continue playing in Spain beyond June 2021, when his contract expires.

Messi, 33, had wanted to leave Barca in August after growing increasingly unhappy at how the club was being managed but was forced to make a U-turn when the Catalan giants demanded his €700m release clause.

"Messi? I hope he will always stay in La Liga," Tebas added. "I don't know if from a personal standpoint he is better off leaving, certainly on the professional side he could earn even more, but considering how well he feels in Barcelona."

La Liga lost Cristiano Ronaldo two years ago when the Portugal forward left Real Madrid to sign for Juventus in a €100m transfer while in the summer of 2017, Neymar left Barcelona to join Paris Saint-Germain in a world record €222m transfer.

"Cristiano Ronaldo left two years ago but we didn't notice from an economic point of view," Tebas said. "And we have always been preparing for the release of our best talents, for the generational change.

"It has already happened with Neymar and with Cristiano. We have signed contracts already for the next four years and no one has complained if Ney or Ronaldo left, they didn't ask for their money back.

"On the contrary, we have grown in the sale of rights. Because there are other factors that matter, besides the names of the players. We have such stability that we continue calmly on our path."