All La Liga fans (and Sid Lowe) can breathe easier tonight—La Liga has been told by a Spanish court to stop the handbags and play football based on the contract they signed years ago. This much-talked-about “strike” and the threats flying back and forth were all to do with that holiest of grails: television money.
It must be pretty damn addictive, as La Liga was willing to break a contract they have a few years left on in order to not lose the revenue from one weekly Spanish soccer broadcast over the free airwaves, therefore making it unavailable to subscription-only channels. Now, in La Liga’s argument, the Saturday night match always involves one of the top 4-6 teams in the league. For example, this Saturday it’s Barcelona vs. Villarreal, but this is nothing new: the entire league has always been an prime illustration of the very few haves and the many have-nots.
La Liga has some financial problems, but they’ve been on the horizon for some time. The clubs have been able to negotiate television deals independently—even though they are “shared”—which allows Barcelona and Real Madrid to command TV money large enough to keep bringing in world-class players, which in turn keep them comfortably at the top of their league. Meanwhile, the other clubs are left to fend for themselves.
La Liga needs to negotiate one contract for all teams and start working towards income-averaging the monies to all teams. Allow the smaller teams to pick up a few more players and get better. Make the league competitive! Right now, it’s a two-horse race from Week one to the end. It’s only interesting if you love kicking puppies.