La Liga president Javier Tebas has highlighted the dismal financial plight of many clubs outside Spain's big two, with Atletico Madrid midfielder Tiago claiming there is no way his side can match Barcelona or Real Madrid over a full season.
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Although Atletico beat Real in last season’s Copa del Rey final and are currently three points ahead in the table, their neighbours have a considerable financial advantage, with an annual budget of over 500 million euros, compared to the 120 million euros available to Diego Simeone’s side.
Tebas spoke in an interview with futbolfinanzas.com of how a need to pay interest on past loans and back taxes was hobbling poorly run clubs like Atletico.
“Atletico Madrid must pay 17 million euros each year to a bank,” Tebas said. “This is nearly enough money to pay for Cristiano Ronaldo’s new contract. We must look for a solution so that clubs have an alternative, do not have to pay this interest.
“The money clubs pay to the taxman weakens them a lot. This money should be out on the pitch -- if that happened then I am sure that three or four of the players who left this year would not have gone. For example, 50 percent of the [reported 45 million euro] fee for ‘Kun’ Aguero [from Manchester City] went to the taxman.”
The sports lawyer suggested that further use of third-party investors would help Spanish clubs to keep their best players and end this exodus of talent to England, France, Germany and Italy each summer.
“We complain when players leave, but when we find a system so that these good players stay we do not like it either,” Tebas said. “If there is a mechanism that allows teams to have access to good players, we must take advantage of it, because that will make our teams better. Then La Liga has more value, TV revenues increase and clubs take in more money, so they can pay their debts.”
Despite Atletico’s on-field success, they remain in huge financial difficulty, with Cadena Ser reporting that the total debts stand at over 500 million euros.
In this situation Colchoneros midfielder Tiago told L'Equipe that he does not think his club can prevent La Liga becoming a two-horse race once again this season.
“It will be difficult for us to challenge right to the end,” Tiago said. “Real and Barca finish the season with 100 points -- it's very rare they lose. Over 90 minutes, it's certain we can beat them, but over nearly 40 games... they have more players, and better quality ones than us.”
Even so, Simeone has moulded Atletico into a force to be reckoned with. The former Argentine international, who played for the club in two spells, took over in December 2011 with Atleti only four points above the relegation zone.
A Europa League success and Champions League qualification have since followed, and Tiago cited Simeone's demands for total professionalism as key to his success.
“We were in a very bad place, and he changed a lot of things,” he said. “He doesn't let us slack off a single minute. Thanks to his past here, he received the unwavering support of the fans and that helped us a lot at the start. After that, he managed to get it into the heads of 25 players that the team is the most important thing and to convince us that every game that's coming up is a final. It worked because we won the Europa League. When you see that it works, you're ready to follow your coach forever.”