MADRID - A Sevilla-led bid to force Real
Madrid and Barcelona to share television revenue more equitably
appears doomed to failure and the big two's domination of La
Liga is likely to remain entrenched for years to come.
Sevilla President Jose Maria del Nido, an outspoken critic
of the current system under which Real and Barca take half the
annual pot of around 600 million euros, has
compared his campaign to the French revolution.
The colourful lawyer convened a meeting this month with
officials from 11 apparently like-minded La Liga clubs who want
the sale of the rights to the league to be centralised and
income shared as in rival European competitions.
However, the movement already appears to be running out of
steam and Real and Barca, the world's richest clubs by revenue
who earn close to 500 million euros a season, are unlikely to
agree to give up their privileged position, analysts said.
"Only with a gun to the head and maybe not even then,"
Placido Rodriguez, a professor of economics at Oviedo University
and a former chairman of La Liga club Sporting Gijon, told
"If nothing changes the gap between the two heavyweights and
the rest can only get wider."
Barca earned a total of almost 180 million euros from
television contracts in the 2009/10 season, including
non-Spanish deals, with Real reaping just under 160 million,
according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League published
A study last year by Sport+Markt, a consulting firm, showed
the pair earned almost 19 times more from TV than the smallest
clubs in Spain's top division, by far the biggest gap in the
major European leagues.
The richest clubs in the English Premier League, which
generates more than a billion euros a year in broadcast revenue,
earned about 1.7 times more than their smaller rivals.
Real and Barca have declined requests for comment on the
Sevilla-led campaign for change.
Introducing a system of collective bargaining in Spain may
help clubs boost total revenue per season for La Liga TV rights
to around 900 million euros, putting the competition on a par
with Italy's Serie A, according to Jose Maria Gay, a professor
of accounting at Barcelona University.
"Assuming all the clubs implement rigorous financial
controls, La Liga would win in terms of footballing potential,"
Gay told Reuters.
"The clubs would be in a better position to build more
competitive squads, as long as they use the extra injection of
"La Liga would be more competitive, results would be closer
and making the league more exciting would mean selling the
product around the world would be much easier.
"Real Madrid and Barcelona must be convinced to take a major
step forward and centralise their audiovisual rights as soon as
possible. Spanish football would be the winner."
The difference in class and spending power between Real and
Barca and their domestic rivals has been underlined by some
massively one-sided matches since the start of the season.
Spanish and European champions Barca crushed Villarreal, who
are competing in this season's Champions League, 5-0 in their
opening game, while Real demolished Real Zaragoza 6-0.
The results prompted the president of Villarreal to accuse
the big two of killing Spanish football, while Del Nido said La
Liga was "a load of rubbish" as only two teams had a realistic
chance of winning the title.
Barca underlined their dominance with an 8-0 romp at home to
Osasuna on Saturday, when Argentine World Player of the Year
Lionel Messi, whose annual earnings exceed those of many La Liga
clubs, netted a hat-trick.
Former Real director general Jorge Valdano said this month
the overwhelming dominance of the great rivals would inevitably
lead them to abandon Spain for European competition.
Del Nido argues that the sale of TV rights should be
overseen by Spain's professional league (LFP), which groups the
42 clubs in the top two divisions, as was the case until the
system collapsed in the mid-1990s.
He had hoped a meeting on Thursday at the LFP's headquarters
in Madrid, attended by officials from Real and Barca, would give
fresh impetus to his campaign.
However, Sevilla Director General Jose Maria Cruz said the
meeting had been "an afternoon tea of pessimists and good for
"We only had a praiseworthy defence from Espanyol and [Real]
Betis," Cruz told reporters.
"The rest of those that attended have remained silent as if
it wasn't an issue for them.
"Real Madrid has reacted harshly against the plan set out by
Sevilla, a sign that they feel threatened, and some other clubs
have even apologised for attending the meeting in Seville."
Del Nido said on Saturday he was disappointed by the outcome
of Thursday's meeting at the LFP but vowed to carry on fighting
what he termed "the TV battle".
"It was a day of disillusion, more for the silence than for
what was heard," he told a meeting of one of Sevilla's
"But the next morning the hope returned and I can say that
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