Spanish rule change could see light at the end of the tunnel for La Liga teams trying to compete financially with Barcelona and Real Madrid
The Spanish government are looking to cap the television income that the 'big two' receive that could begin a change for the better for Spain's smaller Primera Division clubs
Saturday 15 February 2014
In a week where reports suggested new laws in Spain could help restrict the financial advantage gained by Barcelona and Real Madrid over their rivals, there could be few better examples of the gulf in La Liga than Rayo Vallecano’s trip to Barcelona on Saturday night.
Business and finance experts Bloomberg this week reported that the Spanish government are proposing a new Sports Law that would cap the amount Spain’s ‘big two’ can receive through television income. It’s a law that the majority in La Liga would have welcomed long ago, but this time the news seems to have legs.
Currently, Barcelona and Madrid earn a reported six-and-a-half times more than the competition’s smallest clubs. Under the proposed new laws that would be limited to four times the amount of some of their top-flight opponents. The changes may not level the playing field, but they’d at least move things in the right direction.
The Catalan club, leading the way in La Liga this season, earn around €150 million through their current deal with MediaPro while Saturday’s opponents Rayo, who occupy a relegation place, rake in closer to €15 million. Spanish clubs are allowed to negotiate their own television deals and with players such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar and Gareth Bale representing Spain’s top-two, the attraction is obvious.
Barcelona and Madrid will understandably be against the new ‘Sports Law’. Their advantage over the rest will still be great, but their income from television rights will be reduced, and in the era of Financial Fair Play every penny counts, especially when the duo strive to be the most successful on the planet.
The pair have rarely been represented when the other La Liga clubs have met to discussed a possible new deal. They’ve been happy with the way things have been going - one look at the trophies and Primera Division finishes over the last few decades will highlight just why. The other 18 clubs have long dreamed of a deal similar to that in the Premier League and the German Bundesliga, where television money has been more evenly dealt, but that has only ever looked like a pipe dream.
That kind of overhaul is still a way off, but the proposed changes will try and offer some much-needed financial aid at a time when dark clouds hang over a large number of football clubs in Spain. Sport, and football, is far from exempt from the country’s economic crisis and as well as trying to make La Liga more competitive, the Sports Law is more focused on helping clubs that are struggling financially.
It’s not just clubs such as Rayo, Almeria, Elche and Granada that struggle with the current set-up, Atletico Madrid, currently joint-top alongside Barcelona and Real, earn three times less than their rivals, making the work done by manager Diego Simeone all the more impressive. Los Colchoneros have gone toe-to-toe with the usual league leaders and have become genuine title contenders this season. They are unbeaten in the Champions League, too, and their progress is such that they will be favourites to progress when they meet European giants AC Milan in the knockout stages.
When Paco Jemez’s Rayo visit Catalonia this weekend they will be 37 points behind the leading trio. Barcelona will have scored almost 40 more goals and conceded 35 less. Since promotion back to the top flight in 2011 the Madrid-based club have lost all six matches against the side from the Camp Nou, including one 7-0 defeat, a 5-0 loss and two defeats by a 4-0 scoreline in the league. In total Barcelona have scored 23 in those six games and conceded just the one. There could be no better example showing the difference from top to bottom in the Primera Division.
Saturday’s Camp Nou clash will be the ultimate ‘David versus Goliath’ clash. Although faltering recently, including defeat against Valencia in their last home league match, Barcelona will be runaway favourites to secure all three points against a Rayo side leaking goals, leaking points and looking dangerously close to a return to the Segunda Division. The side from Vallecas produced its best display of the season last weekend, in beating Malaga 4-1, according to Jemez, but that will not give many neutrals a desire to back on the visitors.
Rayo scraped top-flight survival in the most dramatic fashion at the end of their first year back in the top-flight in 2011-12, Raul Tamudo scoring a last-minute winner against Granada, despite looking offside, to keep them in the the Primera Division at the expense of Villarreal. Fans of Los Vallecanos may take a similar great escape this season given their current position, with the chance of a bit more cash coming their the way as a reward for their survival in light of the current proposals.
A new television deal has been a long time coming in La Liga, but changes, however small, may well be forthcoming.
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