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Sep 24, 2009

La Liga considers China-friendly kick-off times

Real Madrid want to play matches at a friendlier time for a Chinese audience to raise their profile in the lucrative Asian market, club director Emilio Butragueno said on Thursday.

La Liga games involving Real and Barcelona often kick-off at 2200 Spanish time (0400 in Beijing) and Butragueno said moving fixtures should be a priority for the Spanish football association (LFP).

English Premier League afternoon kick-offs, by comparison, screen in east Asian countries in evening prime time.

The arrival of players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaka in La Liga has created an opportunity for Real and rival teams to boost their presence in the Asian market.

"We, as the Spanish league, believe the possibility of playing matches at a reasonable hour for China will help our competition a lot and also the Spanish teams, which will be better known," Butragueno said at a discussion forum.

Millions of Chinese fans are avid followers of La Liga and the English Premier League and clubs are keen to cash in.

The poor state of Chinese soccer and the failure of its national side to qualify for the World Cup in South Africa next year partly explain why fans look elsewhere for their football fix.

Francisco Roca, LFP director general, also attended the forum and said La Liga was examining the possibility of changing match times.

"I don't rule out there might be some kind of experiment this season to see how it works."

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