Liga - Barca won't budge on TV rights

Fri, 21 Oct 09:40:00 2011

Barcelona and Real Madrid are not prepared to cede to demands for an English-style system of sharing income from audiovisual rights as they want to protect their status as dominant powers in Spanish and global football, according to Barca vice-president Javier Faus.

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Sevilla have fronted a recent bid to persuade Barca and Real, the world's richest clubs by revenue, to share TV money more equitably as in other major European leagues, accusing the big two of "stealing" from their La Liga rivals.

Real and Barca take half the annual TV pot of around 600 million euros ($822 million), which helps lift their annual earnings close to 500m and means they can afford to buy the best players and pay the highest wages.

Faus said that from the 2015-16 season onwards when new TV contracts would come into force Barca and Real were prepared to share some of the extra money that was negotiated with media companies.

However, he added that they were not prepared to see their share of the pot shrink, a position analysts have said is likely to cement their dominance for years to come.

"There is an agreement in principle that the percentage needs to be restructured but not in the way that they (Sevilla and other clubs) want," Faus told Reuters on Thursday on the sidelines of a ceremony to open Barca's new youth academy residence.

"The difference is that in the last 50 years Barcelona and Real Madrid have always been the reference point for Spanish football ... global powers in the world of football," he added.

"This will be very difficult to change and we do not want to change it.

"Yes to a better distribution of the money from rights but also maintaining the status of Barcelona and Real Madrid, who are the trailblazers of Spanish and world football."

Barca earned almost 180m euros from TV contracts in the 2009-10 season, including non-Spanish deals, with Real reaping just under 160m, according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League published in February.

A study last year by Sport+Markt, a consulting firm, showed the pair earned almost 19 times more from TV than the smallest clubs in Spain's top division, by far the biggest gap in the major European leagues.

The richest clubs in the English Premier League, which generates more than a billion euros a year in broadcast revenue, earned about 1.7 times more than their smaller rivals.

"Our position is that there are contracts in place until 2014-15 and we ask that all clubs respect those," said Faus, who is responsible for economic affairs at Barca.

"FC Barcelona is prepared to talk to the clubs to partially modify the division of cash and we have always shown flexibility in that.

"We are prepared to reduce our percentage and raise that of the other clubs.

"We want to protect our nominal position. Whatever extra there is we are prepared for the other clubs to share."

Analysts say the total amount media firms pay for La Liga rights may rise to around 900m euros after 2014-15, putting Spain on a par with Italy's Serie A.

"What we are saying is that we are going to all work together to boost the value of the contracts," Faus said.

"The current deal is inferior to England, to France and to Italy. What we are saying is that we are going to work together, Barcelona and Real Madrid first because we are the strongest, so that the cake is bigger."

Sevilla President Jose Maria Del Nido has argued that the sale of TV rights should be overseen by Spain's professional league (LFP), which groups the 42 clubs in the top two divisions, as was the case until the system collapsed in the mid-1990s.

Some one-sided results this season prompted the president of Villarreal to accuse the big two of killing Spanish football, while Del Nido said La Liga was "a load of rubbish" as only two teams had a realistic chance of winning the title.

Reuters

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