Giorgio Ricci, chief revenue officer for Italian Serie A football club Juventus, has called on the league to schedule more early kick-offs to enable the team to raise its profile in Asia.
The 2019-20 Serie A season gets underway this weekend and, during the first two match weeks, no game will kick off earlier than 6pm local time, which is midnight in Beijing. Thereafter, there is one Sunday match played each week at 12.30pm, plus a 3pm kick-off slot for one Saturday fixture and three Sunday games.
Speaking as Juventus launched a new base in Hong Kong, Ricci urged the league to commit to scheduling more fixtures earlier in the day and further revise its traditional model of playing games in the evening.
It is hoped that by staging matches at a convenient time for TV audiences in Asia, clubs can gain more supporters in the region and ultimately tap into the commercial potential this will bring.
Ricci told BBC Sport: “We have to find the right balance between domestic and global audiences.
“It is not just about the broadcasting times, it is also about the rights distribution and who is showing the games. In that sense, the difference between the Premier League and Serie A is huge. This is a very old story and one of the more frequent reasons for fights with the league.”
Any kick-off time alterations could not be implemented until new domestic broadcast deals take effect from the 2021-22 season onwards.
The English Premier League stages some matches at 12.30pm local time to allow for maximum viewership in Asia, while Spain’s LaLiga often schedules early-afternoon fixtures.
France’s LFP has opted to scheduled a 1pm (CET) Ligue 1 game every Sunday from 2020-21 onwards in order to maximise its audience in Asia. French football’s recent Trophée des Champions match in Shenzhen was watched by a live audience of 1.8m viewers on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV.
Germany’s Bundesliga has taken a more conservative approach to its kick-off times, seeking to protect the tradition of its 3.30pm Saturday time slot and strong attendance figures.
Speaking at the end of 2016, German Football League (DFL) chief executive Christian Seifert said: “We have never considered Asia-friendly kick-off times and we won’t be doing it now.”
Serie A president Gaetano Miccichè stated earlier this year that the league is unlikely to stage a match in China within the next three years, although the possibility has been discussed.
Juventus recently revealed that a digital campaign timed to coincide with its tour of Asia generated 50 million video views and 790,000 engagements while the club was in the region.