The dispute over broadcasting
rights ownership that almost delayed the start of the La Liga
season last week has been resolved, but the resulting muddle of
kick-off times is causing indignation among clubs and fans in
The second round of fixtures sees Champions League
participants Malaga and Valencia both kick-off their matches,
against Real Mallorca on Saturday and Deportivo La Coruna on
Sunday, at 23:00 local time.
Last week's deal, that appeased the feuding rights holders
Canal+ and Mediapro who share the broadcasting of La Liga in
Spain, has led to the professional league (LFP) spreading games
across a dizzying set of times on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.
There were fan protests at a number of grounds last weekend,
with three games finishing close to 01:00 local time.
"We have up to 10 different kick-off times for La Liga. It's
madness," Spanish TV pundit Michael Robinson, the former Ireland
international, said on his Twitter feed on Wednesday.
Valencia, who finished third last season, drew 1-1 away at
the champions Real Madrid last weekend.
They host promoted Depor in a clash between the only two
sides to have won La Liga outside of Real and Barcelona in the
last 16 years.
"It's a time for sleeping," Valencia's Portugal
international Joao Pereira said this week.
"How are you going to take a 10-year-old kid to see a game
at this time? It isn't good for football."
Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini joined the chorus of
complaints before Wednesday's 2-0 Champions League play-off
victory over Panathinaikos.
"Because of the strange programming of games due to
television, we play on Saturday and finish at around one in the
morning, and on Tuesday play the Champions League," the former
Real coach told a news conference referring to their return leg
"Let's see if Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia receive the same
treatment. The four teams all represent Spain and should be
treated the same."
Part of last week's emergency meetings, presided over by the
government, was the scheduling of matches.
Clubs had demanded that the LFP institute a "transparent and
regulated" system for fixing kick-off times and accused officials
of offering some clubs favourable slots to the disadvantage of
The LFP have defended the new late kickoffs as being only
for the first two rounds of matches in August when it is very
hot in Spain. Another related issue, at the heart of the
problem, is the wider debate over the sharing of television
revenues between clubs.
There is no system of collective bargaining in La Liga
similar to those that exist in rival European leagues.
Most La Liga sides are unhappy that Real and Barca dominate
proceedings with individually negotiated deals, taking almost
half of the 600 million euro pot between them, which helps make
them the world's richest football clubs by income.
The scheduling furore has led to a lot of empty seats at the
games shoved to the more anti-social times, in another blow to
heavily-indebted sides trying to keep up with the top two.
Real and Barca, who play the Spanish Super Cup first leg on
Thursday, featured at 17:00 and 19:00 (GMT) last Sunday,
traditional kick-off slots in recent years, and do so again for
the second round of games.
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