LFP chief places faith in collective rights future

Spanish Football League (LFP) chief executive Francisco Roca has stated his belief the domestic game will switch to a collective broadcast rights model within the next three years.

The issue of Barcelona and Real Madrid’s financial dominance has been a long-running concern amongst their Spanish rivals. The Primera Division clubs’ broadcast revenues are expected to reach Eur650 million for the current season and Spain’s big two account for nearly half that figure alone. The Primera Division stands apart from its major European rivals in utilising a team-by-team, rather than collective bargaining process. The disparity in TV revenues generated by Barcelona and Real Madrid, when compared to the rest of the league, is one of the key reasons cited for the current competitive gulf that exists in the Primera Division. Speaking at the Soccerex European Forum on Thursday, Roca said the LFP is making progress towards its goal of collective rights selling, but seven out of the 42 clubs across the Primera and Segunda Divisions are still yet to agree terms over the more equitable distribution of broadcast revenues. The disparity was illustrated as it was revealed that Real Madrid made over Eur140 million from television income in 2011-12, while 17th-placed Granada earned around Eur12 million. By contrast, English Premier League champion Manchester City earned £60 million through TV, while relegated Blackburn Rovers and Wolverhampton Wanderers made £40 million.

“Over the next two to three years we hope to complete the switch to the collective model,” said Roca. “It’s certainly a concern that two or three clubs dominate and this is a situation that Barcelona and Real Madrid acknowledge. But first we have to solve the distribution system. We currently have 35 teams in agreement for the redistribution of funds. Barcelona and Real Madrid have agreed to lower their take to 34% from 42%. Over the next year we hope to get all teams on board.” Roca explained that another disadvantage of Spanish football’s current broadcast model is that the League cannot employ a ‘parachute payment’ system for relegated teams. “We don’t have parachute payments like you do in the Premier League,” he said. “If you get relegated in England, it is difficult but in Spain, it is catastrophic. You don’t even get 10% of the revenue you used to have. We have doubled that amount, but we have to do more. Relegation is a major problem in terms of the financial stability of Spanish football.”

The LFP has been introducing various regulations of late in a bid to address the financial position of Spanish football. In January, the League revealed details of new rules designed to end clubs overspending on players, with the country’s Secretary of State for Sport Miguel Cardenal stating the regulations are a “profound cultural shift” for the Spanish game. The rules will take effect from July 1 and have been drawn up by the LFP and the Spanish Sports Council (CSD). They include powers to limit the total cost of a club’s squad and to refuse to register players if they are deemed too expensive. A study published in April 2012 by Jose Maria Gay, professor of accounting at the University of Barcelona, showed the 20 clubs in the Primera Division had combined debts of some Eur3.53 billion at the end of last season, up from Eur3.43 billion a year earlier. Roca conceded that Spanish football is the “king of administration” but stated his belief that the LFP has a grip on the situation. “We hope that over the next three or four years we won’t have the debt levels of today, while maintaining our fundamental revenue levels,” he added.