La Liga Agreed to a New TV Deal for the Next 3 Seasons: Can It Help The League Compete with Premier League?
For years, La Liga has been known as just a “two horse race” due to the league’s extremely unfair share of TV money distribution where Real Madrid and FC Barcelona had massive monopoly of the rights. This happened because in the past, Spanish clubs negotiated their TV deals individually, which allowed the two most popular clubs to snap up almost 50 percent of the overall pot.
However, a deal struck in December 5th of 2015 could bring a big change to the way the league operates.
A domestic television deal worth a minimum of 2.65 billion euros ($3 billion, £1.86 billion) for the next three seasons was agreed and it will come into effect in the coming 2016-17 season. Although it is still nowhere near the lucrative £5.1 billion three year deal agreed by the Premier League for domestic TV rights, it is certainly a big step in the right direction for La Liga.
The league has finally decided to follow the equal distribution model set by the Premier League, although Real Madrid and Barcelona still won’t lose much of the TV money and will still be the two biggest earners in that regard.
When asked about why Barcelona and Real Madrid are still the highest earners, Javier Tebas — president of La Liga — says:
“I think we have known and the government have accepted it wouldn’t be so equally split as in the English or German league. We need to grow without cutting out Real Madrid and Barcelona. The better they go and the more stars they have, the better the domestic and international rights will go.”
So how will it be distributed?
Simple, it is decided based on three pots. First pot will be 50% of the money distributed to all 20 La Liga clubs. That means every club in La Liga will earn at least €50m in 2016-17 season. Pot 2 will be 25% of the money and it will be decided on how the teams have done in the last five seasons. The last pot, which will be the last 25% of the money, will be decided based on a club’s members, attendance, and ticket sales.
So the big boys of the league will still be earning the most money, but now, even the bottom club can earn up to €62m in a season.
The question is can La Liga clubs use the money wisely to compete with the Premier League, both on the pitch and outside of the pitch? They have not had problems competing on the pitch in recent years, as both Champions League and Europa Leagues were won by Spanish clubs in the last three seasons. However, outside of the pitch, Premier League’s popularity continues to rise along with their income — which gave them power to steal a number of players from La Liga clubs in recent seasons.
Smaller clubs in La Liga have been bringing in a number of quality players to help them prepare for Europe and in La Liga where, thanks to the new TV deal, they finally have a chance to compete with the big three that includes Barcelona, Real Madrid, and Atletico Madrid.
Sevilla and Villarreal have spent a total of €155.5m between them in the summer to bring in quality footballers, as well as new mangers. Sevilla has gone South American by bringing in Jorge Sampaoli, who helped Chile win their
first Copa America title in 2015. While Villarreal decided to stay local, they brought in Fran Escriba, former Elche and Getafe man who has many similarities with outgoing manager Marcelino, to keep the continuity going in the club. They would have preferred to keep Marcelino, but due to the many disagreements between him and the club, sacking him was the only choice at the end.
These two clubs’ performances in both domestic and Europe could be a big factor on how people view La Liga, as many people still like to think only the big three can compete with other big European clubs.
Friday, August 19th was the opening day of the new, exciting La Liga season where we saw Barcelona and Real Madrid win big as usual, registering 6-2 and 3-0 wins respectively. However, we also saw many competitive games and plenty of goals. For example, Atletico Madrid failed to beat newly promoted Deportivo Alaves at home, while fellow newcomers Leganes beat last season’s 6th placed team Celta Vigo away from home and Osasuna getting a draw against Malaga also away from home.
As the season progresses, it is likely that more teams will catch rhythm along the way and put the big three under pressure to make the league as competitive as ever.
Javier Tebas, when asked to compare La Liga with Premier League, says that:
“It is not the Premier League because we have far to go in working on our brand, but we are at a much superior level than the Italian, German or French leagues and within a billion of the Premier League.”
The match day two of La Liga will kick off this Friday when Deportivo La Coruna will travel to Seville to play Real Betis.
The big games for this match day include Real Madrid taking on Celta Viga on Saturday for their home opener, while Athletic Bilbao hosts Barcelona on Sunday, and Villarreal battles Sevilla in El Madrigal right after that match.