There seemed to be a certain surprise at the elimination of both Real Madrid and Barcelona at the semi-final stage of the Champions League. The dreamy “clásico” final will have to wait, as neither were strong enough to overcome their difficult rivals. But why didn’t their own league give them a helping hand?
Maybe this was the year when it could happen. The day may soon be coming that their rivals in the Champions league call foul on their unfair TV deals – all other participants in the Champions League are part of collective TV deals that offer fair share to other clubs, Madrid and Barcelona each took €140m in 11/12. The next team in the pecking order is Valencia with just €48m. For comparison Manchester United earned €62m, and last placed (2010/11 season) West Ham earned €48m. So last in the premier league earn the same as third in La Liga. Sooner or later a level playing field has to be introduced. Right now Madrid and Barcelona have unfair advantage.
But still, the rivalry is all consuming in Spain. Even to the point that it clouded reason. That neither team qualified for the final, part of the blame can be squarely placed on the fact they had to play each other in between the first and second legs of their Champions league semi-finals. If either had said they should play later in the season, the LFP would not have even thought about not saying yes. They always agree whenever Madrid or Barcelona are involved. But all were so consumed by the league clásico that they played their part in not have the ultimate clásico Champions league final.
Barcelona’s net debt reached €578m in 10/11. Real Madrid topped them at €590m. However, their ability to generate income makes this of grave concern, but not terminal. However their dominance is making the rest of Spanish football very sick in it’s fight to compete. Look at Atletico Madrid with €514m debt (they only turn over just over €100m!), Valencia with €382m and Villarreal €267m debt (this in a town of just over 50,000 inhabitants!). Even relegated Hércules announced a debt of €46m in 10/11.
Remember, the beginning of this season was delayed due to a players’ strike over unpaid wages. The figures are frightening with 200 players owed a total of €50 million, up from €12 million owed to 100 players the previous year.
The LFP, yes, those buffoons who dish out winners trophy’s quaffing cigars at swish tuxedo dinners they give for themselves rather than after important games, have systematically failed to control debt, and have ignored dishing out any penalties for financial mismanagement. Meaning, teams spending above their means have enjoyed the results star players bring, but have then received bankruptcy protection without penalty when they couldn’t pay. The result? Overspending has become normal practice, and half of the sides in Primera and Segunda have taken the bankruptcy protection route (including our own Real Murcia. However, it seems more that 50% of our reported €30m debt is owed by owner Jesus Samper to himself). Go the same route in England and you are immediately punished with a 15 or 20 point deduction.
For this season it seems new rules are in place. Teams can be punished, even relegated. But knowing the way the LFP is run, any big club will get away with it, whilst they will come down like the proverbial ton of bricks on any small club. Just like their fellow idiots at UEFA and their pathetic “Financial Fair Play” rules, that look good on the surface, but in reality will only help indebted big clubs to guarantee participation every year and prohibit any smaller upstarts from breaking the status quo. Think I’m joking? See if they have the balls to stop serial money cheats such as Chelsea and Manchester City playing in the tournament, let alone sides with unfair advantage like Madrid or Barcelona. Unthinkable.