New rules for collective TV rights
30 July ~ Sevilla president José Maria del Nido once memorably described it as "the biggest pile of junk in Europe". Indeed no league is in the same financial straits as La Liga – which is why the country's sports minister Miguel Cardenal is planning to force through a new law by the end of 2013 which will force a collective television rights deal on the country's clubs. Presently Barcelona and Real Madrid make approximately €140 million (£121m) each through television revenues, while the next biggest share of the pie goes to Atlético Madrid, with just €47m.
Rayo Vallecano are one of a number of teams making approximately €14m a year – a quarter of what the team finishing bottom of the Premier League next season will accumulate.
Television income is the most important factor in Real Madrid and Barcelona's financial dominance. Barcelona's revenues are so great that they exceed the combined income of the third to eighth richest teams in the country. Trying to keep up with Barcelona and Real Madrid, who can negotiate their individual television rights contracts and dominate financially, has plunged La Liga's clubs into huge debt which they are now trying to get out of.
The consequent imbalance in the competitiveness of the league has led Del Nido's Sevilla to sell Alvaro Negredo and Jesús Navas this summer, in a bid simply to be able to pay the bills. With debt rapidly increasing, La Liga teams have sold €60m more of talent this summer than they have bought. France, Italy and England's clubs by comparison have all bought more than they have sold.
Forcing this new collective television rights deal could help prevent Spanish football "killing itself" in the years to come, as leading football economist José Maria Gay has predicted. La Liga is the only league which can rival the Premier League in terms of international prestige, and the value of the television rights for the division would be significant, proving a major financial boost for the other 18 teams in the league. That will help tackle the toxic debt problem – €670m is owed by Spanish clubs to the taxman and the government is trying to reduce the total debt held by the country's clubs from €4bn today to €3bn by 2016.
There should be long-term benefits to the league's competitiveness, which would increase the value of television rights. It is unlikely that Barcelona and Real Madrid will be toppled but there may at least be the chance of their dominance being occasionally breached, a prospect which is unthinkable at present. That is the end goal for the authorities in the battle to save Spanish football. David Gold