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Real Madrid And Barcelona Refuse To Give Up La Liga TV Cash

by Jack Atchinson

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Bernabeu and Nou Camp giants will keep dominating Spanish football.

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Barcelona and Real Madrid have refused to give up domination of the television revenue from La Liga, despite opposition from other clubs.

A Sevilla-led bid to force the two giants to share TV cash more equitably looks to have failed with the system looking set to remain entrenched for years to come.

Currently Real and Barca take half of the £520.5million (€600m) annual pot for TV rights, leaving the other clubs to fight for the rest.

Sevilla’s president Jose Maria del Nido, an outspoken critic of the current system, has compared his campaign to the French revolution.

He convened a meeting this month with officials from 11 like-minded clubs who want the sale of the rights to the league to be centralised and shared as in rival European competitions.

But the coup already appears to be running out of steam with Real and Barca unlikely to agree to give up their privileged position, analysts said.

“Only with a gun to the head and maybe not even then,” Placido Rodriguez, a professor of economics at Oviedo University and a former chairman of La Liga side Sporting Gijon, said.

“If nothing changes the gap between the two heavyweights and the rest can only get wider.”

Barca earned almost £156million (€180m) from TV contracts in the 2009/10 season, with Real taking just under £138million (€160m), according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League published in February.

A study last year by Sport+Markt, showed the pair earned 19 times more from TV than the smallest clubs in Spain’s top division – the biggest gap in the major European leagues.

The richest clubs in the English Premier League, which generates more than £867million (€1bn) a year in broadcast revenue, earned 1.7 times more than their smaller rivals.

Real and Barca have declined requests for comment on the Sevilla-led campaign for change.

The difference in class and spending power between Real and Barca and their domestic rivals has been underlined by massively one-sided matches this season.

Barca crushed Villarreal, who are competing in this season’s Champions League, 5-0 in their opening game, while Real demolished Real Zaragoza 6-0.

The results prompted Villarreal’s president to accuse the big two of killing Spanish football, while Del Nido said La Liga was “a load of rubbish” as only two teams had a realistic chance of winning the title.

Former Real director general Jorge Valdano said the overwhelming dominance of the top two would lead them to abandon Spain for European competition.

Del Nido argues the sale of TV rights should be overseen by Spain’s professional league (LFP), which groups the 42 clubs in the top two divisions, as was the case until the system collapsed in the mid-1990s.

He hoped a meeting on Thursday at the LFP’s headquarters in Madrid, attended by officials from Real and Barca, would give fresh impetus to his campaign.

But Sevilla director general Jose Maria Cruz said the meeting had been “an afternoon tea of pessimists and good for nothings”.

“We only had a praiseworthy defence from Espanyol and (Real) Betis,” Cruz said. “The rest of those that attended have remained silent as if it wasn’t an issue for them.

“Real Madrid has reacted harshly against the plan set out by Sevilla, a sign they feel threatened, and some other clubs have even apologised for attending the meeting.”

Del Nido said on Saturday he was disappointed by the outcome of the meeting at the LFP but vowed to carry on fighting in what he termed “the TV battle”.

“It was a day of disillusion, more for the silence than for what was heard,” he told a meeting of one of Sevilla’s supporters’ groups.

“But the next morning the hope returned and I can say that Real Madrid and Barcelona have zero chance of winning this battle.”

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