La Liga starts on time but television disputes continue to boil
Published: 20.08.12 / Written by: David Gold
La Liga will begin on schedule this weekend, avoiding the fiasco of last season when the league was delayed due to a row over unpaid wages.
Then, many players in the lower leagues on smaller salaries went on strike, and in solidarity with them better paid players from La Liga joined in, with debt in Spanish football being thrust into the limelight.
Eventually the season resumed, but this year a different but not unrelated issue has been thrust to the surface. An argument with Mediapro and Canal+ has led 13 teams to call a meeting which took place on Tuesday. They were concerned about legal issues and various broadcast issues. Among them is that this season La Liga matches will take place as late as 11pm. Yes,11pm.
Combined with this is the continually thorny issue of the unequal broadcast revenues in the league. The individual deals clubs negotiate mean Barcelona and Real Madrid dominate and take more than half of revenues La Liga makes from television rights. The team finishing third this season may not take as much as the side being relegated from the Premier League in England.
Clubs called for a more equitable model at the meeting, with all 13 seeming to back that, whilst Sevilla have said another two teams are also in support of the move. That is significant. Last year half a dozen teams were leading the push for a more equitable deal, with the others accepting a messy compromise which would only have entrenched Barcelona and Real Madrid's dominance in a 'collective' structure.
Significantly, Atletico Madrid are among the 13. After Barca and Real, they and Valencia were to take 11 per cent of La Liga television revenues under the compromise agreed last year. The rest of the league would have divided 55 per cent among them. That would have meant Atletico would have had a huge in built advantage over 80 per cent of the league.
For them to therefore join the bandwagon calling for a truly equitable deal is significant, particularly after the blow of Villarreal's relegation - they were one of the most vociferous teams, along with Sevilla, calling for a collective deal.
The La Liga season will get underway after progress was apparently made but it is clear the movement in favour of a collective and equitable deal is in full force now. The Real Betis President called for a deal similar to that in Germany, and though Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to resist, it seems the television dispute in La Liga is coming to the surface once again, and it now seems as though it is only a matter of time until a new collective model is brought in.