“You are only as strong as your weakest link.”
It’s been difficult to apply this to La Liga where two clubs have been so dominant financially.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are Champions League semi-finalists yet again.
The three best players in the world are wearing Real or Barca colours and there is a competitive, thrilling finish to the league title race, unlike Italy, Germany and England.
Change is not easy when things seem to be going so well. So I was both surprised and impressed when the Spanish Government, under intense financial and political pressure, acted to try and safeguard the future of its domestic game.
The new law on television revenue is a desperately needed injection into the parts of the body that need it most. It is to make La Liga feel fit and healthy overall.
Barca and Real will no longer be able to negotiate their own television deals despite knowing they hold all the cards.
The deal will be centralised from next year with a fair split.
The big two had so much of the pie it was becoming difficult to actually find the slice belonging to the other 18 La Liga clubs. The smallest clubs like Elche, Granada and Cordoba performed miracles to survive and play good football, Atletico Madrid were in an incredibly unfair position.
Having somehow won the league and reach the Champions league final last season, it was chastening for them to learn they earned less than money than the club that finished bottom of the English Premier League.
It’s obvious that the Spanish Government has looked to England the incredible business model. The new $8bn deal has pulled in more than ten times the amount of La Liga. From next year this will change in Spain.
Ironically, the quality of English club football on the pitch can be questioned. Arguably the poorest quality season in the Premier League’s 23-year history provided only one team who could defend: Chelsea. And that club was found wanting in European competition, where no English side reached the last-eight of either tournament.
Spanish clubs, including Sevilla in the Europa League, hit the heights again.
It’s likely that Real and Barca’s spending power and consistent Champions League achieving will be affected by this law change.
If La Liga increases revenue, including international TV sales, to its full potential, then Barcelona and Real Madrid should still be able to attract superstars. To be fair to both clubs, they played a part in agreeing this deal, that really could cost them points and money.
I wonder if this will finally affect the systematic and highly political Galactico policy, where the club president finds an absurd amount of money to announce his club has brought the world’s biggest transfer target. The European Commission and some important German administrators have paid particular attention to this ‘funding miracle’ in recent years.
I wonder if the Spanish Government realised the net was closing.
In 1998, Real Betis shocked the football world by spending a world record fee of over $30m on Brazilian Denilson. I hope when they are promoted back into La Liga next season, it helps them survive and even flourish. Betis won’t be breaking the world transfer record again but at least they’ll have a chance to compete fairly.
And maybe the league will have the competitiveness throughout the 20clubs that made it the most entertaining league in the world a few years ago.
The weakest link won’t be so weak. For Spanish football, it’s a move that was overdue and desperately needed.