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Sky Sports have suffered a big blow ahead of next season after losing the TV rights to La Liga with Eleven Sports securing a deal for the next three years.

The global sports provider won the bid to broadcast matches in the UK and Ireland from August after Sky failed with an offer of less than £18 million a year. Sportsmail’s Charles Sale revealed last month that Sky’s deal, which has run for more than two decades, was under threat following their reduced offer.

It was thought BT Sport had snatched the Spanish rights three years ago, only for Sky, who had just lost the Champions League to their rivals, to raise their offer to £18m (Sh2.45b) a year.

However, Sky returned with a lower bid this time around and La Liga rejected it in favour of agreeing a big-money deal with Eleven Sports, who are owned by Leeds chief and Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani.

Eleven Sports are yet to reveal how fans will be able to watch Barcelona and Co in action next term, although they could show matches themselves, or sell some or all of their rights onto another broadcaster such as Sky or BT.

They claim that over 1 million people watched the last two Clasico clashes between rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid. It is also understood that the company are eyeing a deal for the Premier League’s two unsold packages of live matches.

The packages – which cover bank holiday and midweek matches – went unsold in February after all bids made failed to meet the reserve price set.

We are proud to build on our existing relationship with La Liga, this time in the UK, one of the most passionate football countries in the world where Spanish football has significant appeal,’ said executive chairman and Group CEO, Mark Watson, in a statement.

‘This is an incredibly exciting time for our young and dynamic company and we will announce soon how we will introduce innovative ways for dedicated fans to watch and engage in the live action.

‘The way people, especially young people, watch live sport is changing and we always try to reflect that in the ways we make our product available. We are excited about the opportunities we have to do this in the UK and Ireland.’ Eleven Sports’ partnership will begin from the start of the 2018-19 season and will run until the end of the 2020-21 season.

Javier Tebas, president of La Liga, added: ‘Eleven Sports are an excellent partner for us in various markets across Europe and we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with them in the UK and Ireland – important markets for us in which LaLiga is very popular.

‘We have worked very hard to promote the excellence of La Liga in the UK and Ireland and we are confident that Eleven Sports will help us to grow and innovate our brand in the market for years to come.’ Eleven Sports also hold the La Liga rights in Belgium and Poland. – DAILYMAIL

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