Atletico Madrid demand fairer TV rights deal in La Liga
Atletico Madrid CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin has called for Spain's government to finally pass legislation that would see La Liga' TV rights money shared more equally.
The current arrangement sees each club negotiate their own deal with a broadcasting partner, leading to a situation in which Real Madrid and Barcelona earned 140 million euros each during the 2013-14 season, while smaller clubs including Elche, Valladolid and Rayo Vallecano received just 18 million euros apiece.
New proposed legislation, which was announced more than two years ago but has yet to be signed into law, aims to introduce greater balance, although the precise details have not been publicly confirmed.
On Friday, 40 of the 41 clubs -- with Athletic Bilbao the only exception -- voted at a meeting of Spanish clubs to urge the country's secretary of state, Miguel Cardenal, to implement the legislation as soon as possible, so that negotiations with potential partners for the coming seasons could begin.
LFP president Javier Tebas told AS after that meeting that the clubs could even take strike action should the situation not be resolved by March, as continuing uncertainty about next season's TV revenues is a huge concern for many clubs in financial difficulty.
Gil Marin backed that stance in an interview with Atletico's official website, calling on Cardenal to keep promises made through recent years and mandate the collective selling of the rights.
"The main unresolved current issue in our sector regards the construction of a strong, competitive and fair league brand," Gil Marin said. "To do this, modifying the current system of selling and distribution of TV rights is required. The government -- through the secretary of state for sport -- committed in different moments, and in different forums, to implement during 2014 new legislation which will regulate the collective sale of TV rights.
"They have not done this. I am aware of pressures received on the part of all those agents who want to have control the day after the legislation, but it is the obligation of the government to uphold the general interest of the fans, the viability of the clubs, and the competitiveness of our league."
Gil Marin maintained all those involved in football, from the clubs, to the TV companies to the fans, would win from the new law.
"The TV operators need to know if they are going to be managing the TV rights in four months or not, as much the Spanish operators as those abroad," he said. "The club's creditors need to know if they have guarantees or not for the repayment of debts. The fans want to know if their teams are going to be able to grow. So football needs the government to make a fair and necessary step -- a simple step that nobody is opposed to."
Current La Liga president Javier Tebas, a sports lawyer by profession, played a key role in the TV rights negotiations previous to taking on his current job, as representative of the G30 group of clubs that includes Real Madrid and Barcelona and most of the teams in the second division.
In recent months Tebas and Jaume Roures, head of major broadcaster Mediapro, have reportedly registered a company named "Spanish Soccer International Marketing AIE" that could be involved in a future rights environment.