La same old Liga story

As La Liga clubs decide on how to share money,dominance of two superclubs is set to continue.

Written by Hormazd | Published: August 20, 2013 3:45 am

They have won every title since Valencia scythed to the top in 2004. They have won the last two titles with a record total of 100 points each. Except for Atletico Madrid,no team finished in sight of the duo last season.

Barcelona and Real Madrid won their opening day La Liga fixtures in contrasting styles — the former routing Levante 7-0 and the latter winning 2-1 at Real Betis courtesy a goal from a £23m debutant. As La Liga clubs struggle to decide on how to share money from television rights,the dominance of two superclubs is set to continue. Unlike other football leagues across Europe,Spanish clubs have no collective agreement for sharing the league’s television rights; instead,each club negotiates individual deals.

As of today,Barcelona and Real,the world’s richest clubs by revenue,pocket over 50% of the revenue,causing pain and heartburn across the league,and creating a gulf in class.

“Collectively we are not the best league,we have two super teams but we have no equal situation between all the clubs,” Luis Manuel Rubiales,Spanish players association president,told BBC World Service. “These two clubs have a lot of income,more than the rest,and the difference is growing every year.”

More than 70 top-flight players have left Spain this year. Radamel Falcao,Alvaro Negredo and Roberto Soldado,last season’s third,fourth and fifth top scorers,are gone,as has any semblance of a title challenge by any other team this year. It takes 20 clubs to make a league but very often,it seems two teams are competing in a super-league of their own. It is not inconceivable to think of a defeat-free campaign being decided by two clásicos.

As The Guardian’s Sid Lowe notes,the 90-point mark has been crossed seven times in the history of the Spanish League. All seven have happened in the last four seasons.

Only four top-division clubs have been net spenders apart from Barcelona and Real. Other clubs have sold because they have to. “Players must leave,” says Spain’s secretary of state for sport. Clubs owe close to £426m to the Inland Revenue and have a collective debt closing in on £3.4bn. A more equitable distribution plan is in the offing,with the clubs furiously debating it.

The final scores on the first matchday may have been exhilarating for some but the scenario was all too familiar and remains more than a little depressing.

Hormazd is a senior sub-editor based in New Delhi hormazd@expressindia.com

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