A dispute between 13 La Liga clubs and their broadcasting partners is putting the first round of matches at risk. Should an agreement not be reached then strike action could postpone the opening round of fixtures for the second season in succession. Clubs are unhappy with a number of factors with 11pm kick-off times causing the greatest amount of fuss.
Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Betis, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Mallorca, Osasuna, Vallecano, Soceidad, Sevilla and Zaragoza all attended a meeting in Madrid today demanding changes to agreements between themselves and two media companies, French station Canal + and Spanish company Mediapro. In a statement released by each of the clubs it stated the intention of calling upon strike action should a result fail to appear.
“If a solution is not reached which all clubs can agree on, the aforementioned clubs are prepared to take whatever measures are necessary, including delaying the start of the 2012/13 league season, which is scheduled to begin on 18 August”.
Nine clubs who have agreements with Canal + argue that Mediapro have greater authority when it comes to scheduling fixtures and means that they are the ones who face awkward kick-off times and unwanted Monday night games. Atletico Madrid are particularly furious as their game with Bilbao is arranged for Monday 20th, just days before their Friday night Super Cup encounter with Chelsea.
As a result four separate arguments have been raging for some considerable time concerning each club. During the meeting the clubs called for unpaid TV money to be awarded immediately as well as pressing for the legal cases with Espanyol and Celta to be dropped (both clubs switched media deals last year). Furthermore a structured schedule for broadcasting matches has been raised in regard to the unreasonably late kick-off times.
A plea for an urgent LFP board meeting on the 14th August came out of the Madrid-based talks earlier and threatened to cause havoc with the opening round of fixtures should their demands not be met. The strike action over unpaid wages last year was a disaster for the image of Spanish football and the Football Association will most certainly not want a repeat of that.
On the other hand the LFP have reasons to answer back to these clubs as many of them owe huge tax debts. An interesting argument between Atletico and LFP vice-president Javier Tebas has evolved. Atletico President Enrique Cerezo hit out at Tebas, saying that the LFP were lying to the clubs by claiming 11pm kick-offs are cooler for players and that midday games gain more revenue due to the large Chinese audience.
Tebas then responded by questioning Atletico’s debt payments, pointing to the €150m of tax still to be paid to the LFP.
Yet again the ugly side of La Liga has showed its face mere days prior to the opening round of matches. The playing field has been unfair for some time now due to the dominance of Barca and Real Madrid, both of whom earn roughly €150m in TV revenue per year. These 13 clubs mooting strike action will be lucky to see a third of that figure on their balance sheets! Maybe now is time for the tables to be turned?
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