With only two games left of the Spanish football season, we face the very real possibility of a national strike, called by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).
In broad terms, the RFEF and the Spanish government cannot agree on the way that TV money from a newly structured deal is to be distributed.
The government has approved a new law on collective bargaining, allowing more clubs to have a bigger slice of the pie, and the LFP (The National Professional Football League) supports this.
Until now, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been free to negotiate their own TV deals, however that has meant that almost half of the money allocated has been distributed amongst those two clubs alone. Hence the huge disparity between them and the rest of the league.
In any event, both clubs had reluctantly accepted during the course of this season that the status quo would shortly be changing and were making plans accordingly.
However, it is the RFEF that oversees the sport in Spain and it is they who have called the strike. Essentially their beef is that they were cut out of the negotiations, were “ignored” and have made noises that suggest they feel their authority has been undermined.
To further muddy the waters the AFE, the Player’s Association, had intimated they would call a strike anyway because of their own unhappiness with the current proposals.
Their particular issue is that the split of revenue between the first and second divisions falls heavily in favour of the first division clubs, thereby widening the salary gap between those at the top end of the game and those lower down.
It leaves a very real possibility of clubs in the lower leagues of the Spanish football pyramid eventually going out of business or at the very least players not being paid for long periods. An untenable situation.
You only have to look at English football’s example to develop an understanding.
Clubs in the Premier League benefit from huge sums of money coming into the game, and parachute payments if they drop into the Championship. Clubs in the lower divisions are being cast adrift with no help from those at the top.
In a nutshell, that’s part of the situation facing their Spanish counterparts. Clubs and players already struggling to meet commitments on time, forced even further into debt and/or administration.
RFEF President, Angel Maria Villar, and LFP supremo Javier Tebas will look like fools if they are unable to resolve their differences quickly. This is no time for posturing and self-aggrandizing.
Not only are the coming weekend’s fixtures under threat, but the Spanish Cup Final also looms largest on 30th May.
No football can be played after that because of the Europa and Champions League finals, and then all of the La Liga based South American players involved in the Copa America – Suarez, Messi, Neymar, Rodriguez, Mascherano et al – will leave for the tournament.
Allowing any strike to continue will inevitably cause irreparable damage to the credibility of La Liga.
One postponed round of fixtures is an inconvenience, but there is enough time to fit a rescheduled game in during a midweek. Any more than that and there will be huge consequences.
What do you think the outcome will be in this situation? Let us know below!