By Adrian Boullosa | Goal.com Spain
Real Madrid and Barcelona play in a league "sentenced to death", according to financial expert Jose Maria Gay de Liebana.
Jose Mourinho's side won La Liga last term to bring an end to three years of Catalan dominance, but you have to go all the way back to 2004 for a winner outside the big two (Valencia), and Gay de Liebana believes that is unlikely to change any time soon due to the "brutal imbalance" in incomes.
Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, the university professor said: "In Spain, the first and second in the table finish 40 points above the third. For me, Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing in a league that is sentenced to death and that will lose all interest."
And in reference to the imbalance in the distribution of television rights, which see Madrid and Barca negotiate their own lucrative deals in detriment to the other top-flight teams, and the sides' superior pulling power on a global level, he added: "The imbalance is brutal - they take 50 per cent of the money available.
"Barcelona and Madrid are sides with universal projection and a tremendous risk diversification, allowing them to bring in income from all over the world."
Gay de Liebana, who recently released a new study on the financial state of La Liga and previously worked as an economic consultant at Espanyol, sees pros and cons when it comes to Barcelona and Madrid's protagonism in the Primera Division.
"I think that on one hand" - he explained - "having Madrid and Barcelona improves La Liga a great deal because they are two giants on a European and world level, but at the same time they make for a bipolarised competition and that works against the other clubs, who are left without [the same] protagonism.
|"For me, Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing in a league that is sentenced to death and that will lose all interest. The imbalance is brutal - they take home 50 per cent of the money available"
- Jose Maria Gay de Liebana
"We know that Barcelona or Madrid will win the league, that the next one will be won by Madrid or Barcelona, and that the following one will be won by one of those two clubs, too.
"The ambition and aspirations of the other clubs end up totally frustrated and that means we are killing the hen that laid the golden eggs."
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Barca host Madrid in the Clasico this weekend and go into the famous fixture with an eight-point lead over their fierce rivals, and Gay de Liebana assessed the sides' strategies ahead of the Camp Nou clash.
"Madrid have a very expensive structure because they are putting their faith in signings, not the youth system, and as long as they are earning money, that can work," he explained. "But from my point of view, there is a risk: if Madrid don't win the Champions League, whatever happens in La Liga, their project will suffer. It's a necessity.
"With respect to Barcelona, I have been critical in the last two seasons because I couldn't understand why they were losing money, but there has been an improvement in their accounts and their debts [recently]."
Overall, however, the Catalan economist believes debts have spiralled out of control in La Liga.
"Primera Division clubs have debts of €3.596 billion - and they will never be able to pay that money back."