x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Disparity in the Primera Liga needs to be addressed fast

How can La Liga claim to have the world's best league when so many issues exist?

Teams such as Valencia, in white, and Racing Santander are vying for fans' attention.
Teams such as Valencia, in white, and Racing Santander are vying for fans' attention.

The official website of the Primera Liga describes it as "the best league in the world". Judging by the talent on display at the top two clubs, Spain boasts two of the most glamorous teams in the world with the best players, but the best league? That's a stretch.

If it is the best then why are there so many empty seats in stadiums for matches? England and Germany's leagues both have far higher average attendances and grounds are filled on average to 90 per cent of their capacity. The only team in Spain which managed to achieve such a high percentage last season was Malaga.

If it is the best then why are there so many arguments and strike threats? Why is there such a vast disparity in television revenues?

Why do club chairmen find out that their team is playing on a Monday night in a newspaper and not by being informed by the league officials themselves?

Why did Atletico Madrid and Villarreal, two of the strongest teams in Spanish football in recent years, have to sell their best players in the summer in an attempt to balance the books?

Why has Fernando Roig, the Villarreal president, been a continued critic of a system which has led to debts of €4 billion (Dh21.2bn) among Spanish clubs.

Why did Jose Maria del Nido, the Sevilla president, use a swear word to describe the league because of its rampant inequality?

The conversation in the Sevilla boardroom tomorrow promises to be interesting with Del Nido calling for a meeting of all clubs, except Barcelona and Real Madrid, to discuss television money. "This is an uprising by the rank and file," he said yesterday.

Spanish football has many pluses, but there are serious issues which need addressing, and far stronger governance is a priority.

Those changes will be almost impossible while Barca and Real have all the power. Roig does not want a collective TV agreement where clubs receive similar amounts, as in England, but one that closes the vast disparity that helps the big two lavish 10 times more money on players than the teams directly below them.

Roig thinks the ratio should be closer to three to one, that Barca and Real winning almost every game is bad for competition and that fans will ultimately switch off if they think results are predictable. He is right, but will "the best league in the world" listen?

sports@thenational.ae


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