Spain's LFP plans legal action to block federation's proposed La Liga strike
The Spanish football league (LFP) will take legal action against the Spanish federation over its plans to suspend all domestic competitions indefinitely from May 16.
The federation (RFEF) announced on Wednesday evening that it would halt football in the country later this month over a dispute regarding government interference in the league's television rights.
The LFP, which will hold an extraordinary general assembly on Monday in the hope to avoid the proposed strike said in a statement: "Regarding the decision adopted by the RFEF's General Assembly to indefinitely suspend all football competitions at every level, the LFP states that it has taken the corresponding legal actions in defence of the rights and legitimate interests of the clubs, as well as the rights of the competitions that it organises and that have been grossly affected by the aforementioned decision by the RFEF.
"The RFEF's decision is null and void by law... given that the sports law and the current co-ordination agreement attributes to the LFP the right to organise professional competitions and approve the sporting calendar of those competitions.
"The LFP expressly reserves the right to take legal action to claim for the serious damages as well as any financial, sporting, social or any other type of harm that may arise from the RFEF's decision."
Cardenal, the government's top sports official, defended the new law on Thursday and said the federation's threatened strike can't be justified.
"I ask the federation to read the law carefully, take time to think, and return to the reasonable work of fostering amateur football," Cardenal said.
If the strike does takes place, the Copa del Rey final between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on May 30 will be affected, as well as the final two rounds of Primera Division action.
At the heart of the dispute is a proposed law which will force the RFEF to sell television rights for the Primera Division collectively instead of individually, as is currently the case.
Under the proposed legislation, which still needs the approval of the country's parliament, the RFEF would be awarded 4.55 percent of revenue from the Spanish government, a figure the federation deems inadequate.
Angel Maria Villar, the federation president since 1988, has repeatedly been at issue with Miguel Cardenal, the president of the Spanish government's higher sports council, and league president Javier Tebas over measures taken to curb violence in stadiums, the auditing of federation finances, and public funding of sports.
And Tebas wasted no time lashing out at Villar on Thursday.
"It's an insane, audacious and irresponsible act by Angel Maria Villar's institution, which doesn't know what course professional or amateur football should take," Tebas said. "It's a challenge to the league, and it only corresponds to a personal agenda."
Tebas, as league president, has argued that the new law will be necessary for the league to try to get a similar deal to the one struck in February by the English Premier League worth about £5 billion for the domestic rights alone for 2016-19.
"The damages are terrible and huge," Tebas said of the strike on Thursday. "Even in China they are worried about the consequences it can have on our sponsors.
"I ask the government to leave the proposed law as it is and not to touch it. If there is going to be a strike, then so be it. But we won't bow to the federation's blackmail. If the government bows to his irresponsible act of blackmail, it will be a setback to the regeneration of Spanish football."
The RFEF has the backing of the Spanish professional footballers' union (AFE). The union on Thursday confirmed it would strike as it is unhappy at being left out of the negotiations as well as with its own lack of revenue in the deal.
"The players have decided to strike and we have made them aware that we are right and we are supporting this decision. We are not issuing a threat, but rather a defense of our vulnerable rights," said AFE president Luis Rubiales in a statement. "We are not against the collective sale [of TV rights], rather we are for a larger stream of revenue. We want to say in this Royal Decree that the distribution favors the clubs. But it is another matter how the distribution has been done."
In contrast, the LFP fully supports the government's plans.
The LFP added: "The Royal Decree represents an historic milestone for Spanish football with a clear degree of corporate social responsibility.
"With the estimated income forecasts, the payroll of Segunda Division teams is expected to double compared to current figures.
"Additionally, with this agreement, over 300 Primera Division female players as well as more than 2,000 Segunda Division B players, will be entitled to social security.
"This measure will equally benefit all top level sports, with athletes receiving one percent that will guarantee their social security payments, which is a necessary initiative to protect the Spanish brand for our elite sportsmen and women.
"The LFP would like to highlight the support shown by numerous sports men and women towards this measure."