TV rights row threatens to split Spanish football
The new La Liga TV rights deal is unfair to everyone except Madrid and Barcelona.
A rift is beginning to develop in Spanish football over the share of future television money from the LFP (Spanish League) after a meeting attended by all first division clubs.
Six of them – Sevilla, Zaragoza, Villarreal, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol – have all officially distanced themselves from any proposed agreement, and Sevilla president José María del Nido, spokesman for the group, explained the position to Palabra de Fútbol radio:
“Only Real Madrid and Barcelona stand to gain from this,” he said. “The two giants have earned €1,500 million more than the next club in the last ten years, and with this agreement in place four clubs – Real Madrid, Barcelona, Atlético Madrid and Valencia – will all earn more in the next six years than a team that finishes third in the league.”
The agreement is due to start for the 2015/16 season, although there is an option to bring it forward a year, and it has so far been signed by 13 clubs – the only one still not to have made a definite decision is Málaga. The suggestion put forward is that Real Madrid and Barcelona would share 34% of revenue whilst Atlético Madrid and Valencia would share 11%. The remaining 45% would then be divided amongst the other 16 clubs, with so-called ‘parachute payments’ in place for relegated clubs.
The rebels are totally opposed to the plan, which on the face of it implies the rich will get even richer, and say it affects competitiveness and fairness. They now intend to take their complaints to the Tribunal de la Competencia (Competition Tribunal) where they will make it clear they want a system where clubs equally share 40% of total income, whilst 60% would be subject to different criteria: TV audiences generated, league position and standing.
Del Nido went on to back up his claims with facts: “Of the 79 leagues played 51 have been won by Real Madrid or Barcelona, which is 65% against 35% for the rest. In the last ten years the two big clubs have won 80% of the titles with 20% for the rest. And most significantly, in the last five years only these two have won the title. If this continues the league title will have been sold in advance for the next ten years,” he added.
He gave more details of the meeting on Sevilla’s official web site www.sevillafc.es:
‘We discussed how the Spanish league has evolved in the last five or ten years, for today there exists a difference of 45 points between the first and last in the table. It’s wrong and degrading to professional football as it eliminates competition. We have seen that the only way competition can exist is if everybody competes at least more equally, with television rights shared as they are in countries such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy. In France five different teams have won the title in the last ten years and in Germany the number is four.
Furthermore, Sevilla FC is fighting for the interests of all first and second division clubs and not against any particular one. We want the distribution of income balanced in everybody’s favour – clubs like Osasuna and Racing would earn more as well as ones such as ourselves, Atlético and Valencia. Real Madrid and Barcelona would earn less but this is exactly what happens in the Premiership. If Manchester United are Champions they will earn double what a team that gets relegated earns, but this doesn’t happen in Spain. Real Madrid earns €150 million from television rights while Levante get €9 million; in this instance it’s impossible for teams in the same category to compete.
We spoke about the television money for three hours and not one president showed their dissatisfaction with the collective sale of the TV rights, the same as not one disagreed with the equal share which Sevilla and the other five clubs want; the presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona remained silent. The five who share this proposal with us will carry on fighting from within the group of thirteen clubs.’
Finally the Sevilla president spoke of his conclusions in respect to the future of live television money. “I think time will be in our favour,” he said, “because we are talking about something that would be in place for the 2014/15 season. So we have time to modify any criterion that has been reached. We are absolutely convinced we have right on our side and are fighting for the interests of Spanish football so that the league is truly competitive. We will carry on with what we discussed today as it could take many years fighting for this cause.”