La Liga begins on schedule but TV dispute unsolved

Reuters, Tuesday 14 Aug 2012

The 2012-13 La Liga season will begin on schedule this weekend following an emergency meeting between disgruntled clubs and the professional soccer league (LFP) to discuss a TV rights dispute


Officials from a group of 13 clubs said on Tuesday the issues had not been resolved at the LFP assembly in Madrid. But progress was made and the presence of secretary of state for sport Miguel Cardenal had helped calm the situation.

"We discussed issues to do with the league, with governance and with television broadcasts," LFP president Jose Luis Astiazaran told reporters. "There will be games this weekend that will start at the scheduled time."

The 13 first division sides are angry that broadcasters Canal+ and Mediapro have failed to settle a dispute over TV rights ownership.

The clubs say this has created "a situation of serious legal insecurity" and had threatened to postpone the season's start.

"There will have to be a solution but it won't be ready tomorrow," Miguel Guillen, president of Real Betis, told the club's radio station after the LFP meeting.

"It was an extremely important step forward that the secretary of state is perfectly aware of the issues to be addressed."

The 13 - Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Betis, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Real Mallorca, Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano, Real Sociedad, Sevilla and Real Zaragoza - have urged the broadcasters to settle outstanding debts to the clubs and to drop any legal action against them.


They also want the LFP to institute a "transparent and regulated" system for fixing kickoff times. They have accused officials of offering some clubs favourable kickoff times that disadvantage others.

"We are 13 united teams and we have to carry on until we achieve our goals and try to win the battle for the good of our own interests and those of La Liga," Atletico president Enrique Cerezo told reporters.

Many La Liga clubs are also unhappy that Real Madrid and Barcelona dominate revenue from audiovisual rights due to the lack of a system of collective bargaining and income-sharing like those in rival European leagues.

Betis's Guillen said the German model was one La Liga would do well to learn from.

"We fully agree that the way football is organised in Germany would be an ideal formula to apply in Spain, both in the equitable distribution of (cash from) audiovisual rights and treating the fans with maximum respect," he said.

The aim was to "try to make the event last much more than the 90 minutes of the match and provide a range of services to fans that we cannot today because we don't have the basic requirements to get it going."

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