TV rights dispute forces Spanish FA to suspend La Liga
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has announced that, following an argument over government interference in the league's TV rights, domestic football in Spain will be suspended as of 16 May. This means that, on top of the remaining league matches, the Copa Del Rey Final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on 30 May is suspended until further notice.
The current TV rights deal in Spain requires all clubs to negotiate rights individually, a policy that has unsurprisingly worked in the favour of Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two biggest and influential clubs in Spain by far. It is a situation in which Real Madrid and Barcelona receive nearly half the total amount of TV money, and one that both clubs reluctantly admit is unfair on their smaller league counterparts. Now however, a law backed by the professional soccer league and approved by the government last week will force the RFEF to share out the TV wealth collectively and more evenly across all the clubs in the First and Second Division. The new law seems to propose a change for the better, as the TV money can be distributed more fairly in the top two leagues, meaning smaller clubs in Spain will benefit and develop. However, it is a proposed law that the RFEF has vehemently opposed, so vehemently in fact that they have decided to suspend domestic football in Spain until a revised law is passed which they deem acceptable.
The RFEF's reason for suspending the league is perhaps indicative of the priorities of modern football federations, as their opposition to the new law is a result of the proposed reduction of their cut of the TV profits to an inadequate 4.55% (in their eyes). The selfishness of football federations is nothing new though - we covered Football Supporters Federation's 'Share TV Wealth' protest in March, demanding that the FA better distribute the new Premier League TV rights deal money throughout the Football League.
It is a sad state of affairs that the interests of football fans and smaller football clubs in Spain play second fiddle to the pecuniary demands of the RFEF. We can only hope that the RFEF lets go of their rather selfish demands and does what's best for the football fans and smaller clubs of Spanish football.