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Apr 18, 2013

La Liga TV rights to be reviewed

A new law could force La Liga teams to sell their television rights collectively, the president of Spain's Sports Council, Miguel Cardenal, has said.

Under the current system, each Spanish club is free to negotiate individually with broadcast partners. This allows the big two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, to earn about €140 million each, with Atletico Madrid next (on an estimated €50 million) and minnows Granada making approximately €12 million per year, leading to a severe lack of competitive balance.

Cardenal, a member of Spain's government, told radio station La COPE legislation that would lead to a more level playing field in Spanish football was being considered.

"That is an important issue because it is the principal source of financing [for the clubs]," he said. "The idea is that the new law gathers the rights together collectively, and that just one packet is sold which includes all the teams. The natural thing to do is think that the difference between those who receive the most and the least narrows."

The Spanish government and European Union have taken a closer look at football finances during the current economic crisis, especially the amounts clubs owe to the exchequer.

Cardenal said progress was being made on this issue, and La Liga clubs managing to cut the taxes they owe from €750 million to €670 million in the last year was a positive sign.

"Last year it was €750 million, so the progress made over this year seems like positive news to me," he said.

The conservative politician suggested foreign investors could be a source of support for Spain's financially-troubled clubs, which between them owe an estimated €3 billion - something fans of clubs such as Malaga [where financial problems have seen them banned from Europe] and Racing Santander [on the brink of extinction] might question.

"Foreign investment comes as a creation of wealth," he said. "With that, you can do many things and create jobs."

Asked about revelations made recently by Liga de Futbol Profesional [LFP] vice-president Javier Tebas that match-fixing had taken place in Spanish football in recent seasons, Cardenal said the new law could also address that issue.

"If [Tebas] said that, he will have his reasons," he said. "It would be strange if we were the only country that ran that risk. We must not ignore that the risk is there. We are looking at legislation to address that."

The judge in the ongoing 'Operacion Puerto' doping case, who is currently considering her verdict, had been correct not to ask accused doctor Eufemiano Fuentes to name figures in football he might have previously worked for, Cardenal said.

"Whatever information given, which can be verified, can be investigated," he added. "An accused can collaborate, but cannot have in his hands the possibility to say names without having proof. When the case is over, the information will be collected and the investigation will continue."

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