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European Football

The Darker Side of Spain

Reports have come out this week claiming that La Liga was on the verge of the biggest change up since its creation. A study published by Sport+Markt, showed that Real Madrid & Barcelona gobble up roughly 19 times more money from the leagues TV deals, than the smaller clubs at the bottom end of the league.

The general system of revenue sharing which is adopted in rival leagues in England, Italy & Germany does not occur in Spain, and the world’s richest clubs by income, Real Madrid & Barcelona, get around half the total pot of around 600 million Euros from the Spanish Premier League. If this doesn’t sound as odd or concerning, bare in mind that the richest clubs in the English Premier League, by contrast, earned around 1.7 times more than their smaller rivals.

In a Footballing world where the sport, and the individual leagues especially, are sold for entertainment purposes more and more every day, La Liga has been trying for some time now, to compare to the excitement and unpredictability of the English Premier League with its free spending clubs, pushing competition and the amount of shock results to the max.

A two horse race leaves a lot to be desired, as interesting as Barcelona or Madrid are when they come up against Chelsea or Milan in the Champions League. A league format where the Championship goes either one way or another, with absolutely no chance of a third opponent, is never good for television appeal in foreign lands, or for the domestic game itself.

The last club to win the League besides Madrid or Barcelona were Valencia in 2003, and the league title has gone to a club outside Barcelona or Madrid only four times in the past 20 years(well, not true, Athletico Madrid brought it back to Madrid in 1995).

To add to that grim reading, last season Barca set a new points record in winning La Liga with 99 points, and Real were three points behind in second, with Valencia dragging behind in third with a massive 25 points between themselves and Madrid. As well as that, Valencia who many consider the best of the rest, had to sell David Villa to Barcelona and Silva to Man City just to break even. Showing just how broad a gap is between the rich top two and the other eighteen struggling clubs.

The major problem with this system is that the other eighteen clubs struggle to make enough money to compete by paying high enough wages or paying enough for the right quality of player. Recent studies published as recently as May show that the 20 La Liga clubs had combined debt of 3.526 billion euros in 2008/09, up from 3.49 billion the previous season. A mere fraction of it, from Madrid and Barcelona. With only one club (Numancia) making a profit besides the top two last season, and perhaps the most concerning figure being that Sevilla, Athletico, and Valencia’s salary costs where 120% more than their total revenue.

Its good to here news like this, I don’t think anyone would argue with a more competitive La Liga, where teams like Valencia, Athletico Madrid or Sevilla that provide us with a huge amount of tremendous youth players, are able to hold on to their best players and increase the competitiveness of the league.In a country that’s always been dominated by those two clubs. Its good to here that some are standing up against them before they choke the rest of the league dry.



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