La Liga: Years of backing down to FC Barcelona and Real Madrid is to blame

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This is part four of an on-going debate regarding the TV deal currently in place in La Liga. Part One was my take on why a TV deal cannot happen, Part Two was a response for Liga Justa by the guys at Villarreal USA, and Part Three was published just days ago, again by Sid at Villarreal USA. This was a counter proposal, influenced in part by the structure of Major League Baseball, and in particular, the idea of a Luxury Tax.

Now, apologies to everyone expecting a direct response, I must confess that I know very little about MLB, and the idea of Luxury Tax is alien to me. The NBA is the example that is familiar to me, but according to Wikipedia (I know, poor source); MLB is completely different.

However, one thing I do know is that Barcelona and Real Madrid will not be too keen on paying any more money, or receiving any less either. Therein lays the problem. There is an undoubted status quo in La Liga, and Sevilla president Jose Maria Del Nido is of the opinion that the quality of the Spanish league is deteriorating fast.

Last time round, I argued that the problem was down to the broadcasters and the mismanagement evident across the league, or at least when compared to the top two. Now, this is also the basis for my latest argument, but fear not, this is not a rehash of my first article.

Sid proposed a system similar to the MLB, which consistently allows the "underdogs" to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox, despite their spending. The Luxury Tax distributes money to the weaker teams in the league and in principle, this is a great idea. However, and with all due respect to Sid, this is not a viable idea in football.

This would require a basic cap on salaries, and where do you stop? Do you set the cap somewhere around the level of spending Atletico Madrid and Valencia can sustain? This would certainly create a better league, and the Luxury Tax would be the reason behind it, but I can’t see Sandro Rosell or Florentino Perez accepting this after years of getting their collective way.

So, a decision on Luxury Tax would have to appease the two all-powerful men, and this would mean a (virtual) salary cap close to the current spending, or – knowing the antics of Rosell and Perez – a level just above current spending, with promises of help in the future. Instead of focusing on a new deal, the world and its dog is tripping over itself to appease the higher-ups.

It’s a sad situation, but everyone in La Liga is scared of Rosell and Perez. Previously it was Joan Laporta and Ramon Calderon: the status quo, however, has remained the same. Action may be threatened, and clubs may attempt to revolt en masse, but when it gets to the time for action, when faced with the big bad wolves (Barca and Real), they bottle it.

The reason behind the mismanagement, the lack of sponsors, some of the most pressing concerns around La Liga, I could call the upper echelons incompetent, but the truth is, they just lack the cojones to make good on their threats.

So credit to Del Nido for proposing the idea, and Fernando Roig for lending his support, but shame on the other clubs for backing down. Then again, one could argue that it is too late for action. Years of collective submission to Barcelona and Real Madrid created a defacto duopoly. While I am a proponent of an equal distribution of the television revenue, I am of the same opinion of Villarreal USA’s Allan Dodson.

It’s great to dream of these things and the Luxury Tax idea is revolutionary, but being pessimistic (read: realistic), we all know that neither Rosell nor Perez will support any change, and the rest of the league have themselves to blame.

You made the bed, now you have to sleep in it.

 

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