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LaLigaWeekly On May - 12 - 2010

Spanish Premier League

Spain's Fernando Torres

As I was saying last week, May 10th would be an important day for the Spanish Football Federation and the clubs in the Primera Division in particular. Yesterday, representatives of clubs great and small were to meet and decide, as Valencia’s Superdeporte were reporting, to “split professional football in two.” The biggest clubs in the Primera (Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Sevilla, Deportivo, Valencia, Villarreal, Racing which did not attend the meeting and Getafe) had already passed a referendum stating their intention to “decouple the top level of Spanish Football from the rest, following the example of domestic competitions in other major leagues such as England or Italy. Further meetings would take place on June 21st, after this year’s competitions have ended, and would establish rules by which next year’s championship would be run. It is still too early to tell by which date the separation of the Primera Division from the Segunda would take place, but they stated they would also debate new organizational norms, more rigorous economic mechanisms of control between members, and integrate solidly with the teams from the lower divisions by offering balloon payments for relegation.

Much of that happened, but it was less unanimous than any thought.

“Ten first division clubs, the poorest, and seventeen in the second, decided to ask political groups to have a debate on the regulation by law of the sale of television rights and take into account their desire to negotiate jointly, as other European countries have done.’

It’s an interesting dilemma. Will Spain move to the English model or the German model, but either way it’s doubtful that the smaller clubs can hijack the decision making process in its entirety. It’s a negotiating ploy, they are waiting for the big clubs to sweeten the pot, giving them a bigger slice of the international television rights, image rights, a bigger balloon payment for relegated teams, some salary controls or more limits to foreign players.

Sometime soon, maybe next year, but more than likely in the next 3-5 years, Spain will have a more equitable economic system than the one in place now, where now the big two dwarf their nearest rivals by leaps and bounds, most of them are in an economic freefall, and none are within even 25 points of Real Madrid or Barcelona.

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