After seven months of negotiations, the Spanish clubs have finally come to terms regarding the future distribution of TV revenues, which will come into effect in the 2014-2015 season.
Barcelona and Real Madrid had initially demanded to get 40% of total revenues, but they eventually settled for 34% (Atletico Madrid and Valencia will get 11%, while the other clubs will split the remaining 45%). Still, some clubs were not particularly happy with this new deal and decided to whine about it.
In fact, six clubs refused to sign this deal: Sevilla. Zaragoza, Villareal, Real Sociedad, Athletic Bilbao and Espanyol. Leading the charge was, of course, Sevilla's infamous president José María del Nido:
"Of the 79 leagues played 51 have been won by Real Madrid or Barcelona, which is 65% against 35% for the rest. In the last ten years the two big clubs have won 80% of the titles with 20% for the rest. And most significantly, in the last five years only these two have won the title. If this continues the league title will have been sold in advance for the next ten years,"
We discussed how the Spanish league has evolved in the last five or ten years, for today there exists a difference of 45 points between the first and last in the table. It’s wrong and degrading to professional football as it eliminates competition. We have seen that the only way competition can exist is if everybody competes at least more equally, with television rights shared as they are in countries such as Britain, France, Germany and Italy. In France five different teams have won the title in the last ten years and in Germany the number is four.
Furthermore, Sevilla FC is fighting for the interests of all first and second division clubs and not against any particular one. We want the distribution of income balanced in everybody’s favour – clubs like Osasuna and Racing would earn more as well as ones such as ourselves, Atlético and Valencia. Real Madrid and Barcelona would earn less but this is exactly what happens in the Premiership. If Manchester United are Champions they will earn double what a team that gets relegated earns, but this doesn’t happen in Spain. Real Madrid earns €150 million from television rights while Levante get €9 million; in this instance it’s impossible for teams in the same category to compete.
We spoke about the television money for three hours and not one president showed their dissatisfaction with the collective sale of the TV rights, the same as not one disagreed with the equal share which Sevilla and the other five clubs want; the presidents of Real Madrid and Barcelona remained silent. The five who share this proposal with us will carry on fighting from within the group of thirteen clubs.’
But he wasn't the only one. Espanyol's president also whined. It seems that he is not too comfortable being "the other club in Catalunya", the one no one cares about:
"I cannot understand why teams such as Atletico Madrid and Valencia have agreed to this. Not so long ago, these teams could have been fighting for the title but now they have given up on finishing either first or second.
"Fans of these teams would like to have seen leadership, particularly is Atletico want to avoid facing 20 years without defeating Real Madrid. Barcelona and Real Madrid do not understand the other clubs."
"Florentino claimed that it is important to have competitive teams in Europe, as this will bring more revenue to the league. To me, they play in the Champions League against Inter, Chelsea or Bayern, who are not earning the same.
"If I were one of those clubs, I would complain. Florentino's argument does not hold any more."
The six rebels are now going to take the case the court. They propose a system where clubs equally share 40% of total income, whilst 60% would be subject to different criteria: TV audiences generated, league position and standing.
But they're fighting a losing battle. Barcelona and Real Madrid are bigger than all the remaining clubs put together. Together, they have approximately 90 million fans only across Europe (Barcelona 58 million, Real Madrid 32 million) and they are the two biggest, most popular clubs in the world. People want to see Barcelona and Real Madrid play; neutrals want to see Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo play.
They couldn't care less about an Athletic Bilbao vs Sevilla match. Barcelona and Real Madrid generate huge profits to TV stations, hence why they get the bigger share of the revenues. They worked a long time to become such big clubs worldwide.
Until the other clubs can become as big and marketable as the two Spanish giants, they should just shut up because they're really fighting a losing battle. They can consider themselves happy that Barcelona and Real Madrid only get 34%, and not the 40% they initially demanded.