It is a widely known fact that Real Madrid and Barcelona are the dynamic duo behind La Liga football.
Both have been the top teams in Spain year after year, gaining world wide acknowledgement and praise for doing so.
However, with the emergence of Atletico Madrid and Sevilla, and a promise of fairer financial share in TV rights, could we possibly see a change to Spanish football standings?
Top teams Real Madrid and Barcelona have always reigned in La Liga over the years with an abundance of title wins between them, leaving many other teams falling behind or suffering in terms of status and reputation.
Valencia were once a threatening team, yet being forced to sell their top stars season after season has taken its toll. Subsequently it has been almost a decade since they last won the league title.
Atleti have had good and bad years, finishing third last season and despite seemingly getting better and better, they still cannot compete against the duopoly of Los Blancos and the Catalans – according to their own coach.
Diego Simeone claims to have no expectations when it comes to winning the league – it is too ‘ambitious’ for Los Rojiblancos to compete in a two-horse race.
Champions League qualification for Atleti was the aim, and that has been achieved. The club look odds on favourites to top their group and progress in the competition, after lifting the Europa League two seasons ago.
Those who are familiar with sections of the Spanish media will know that the Spanish Primera received much criticism for the way it allocated money from television rights, favouring Real and Barca over other competing clubs.
This, of course, is a huge reason behind the success of the big two – and the problems suffered by the other sides.
Several Spanish sides have had hard times financially, costing them their leading players in order to make ends meet; Valencia selling David Villa and David Silva – not to mention Juan Mata. Sevilla selling Jesus Navas – the list goes on and on.
This is in sharp comparison to Spanish giants Real and Barca who, never exhausting their wealth, can splash out on world-record deals year after year. The deal for Gareth Bale is case in point here.
It begs the question whether in order to change Spanish football – for the better – there needs to be a change in the shares of Spanish television rights.
The difference between Spain and the UK is that TV rights are far, far more equal in their allocation of funds.
In Spain, 56% of the total income goes to Real Madrid and Barcelona, with the remaining 44% divided between the other 18 clubs in La Liga.
In England however, domestic money is split three ways: 50% ‘equal share,’ 25% dependent on how many times a club was on TV (facility fees) and 25% dependent on where a club finished in the table (merit payment). Vastly different from giving most of it to the top two then.
Another huge issue, highlighted by Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido, is the fact that in Serie A, the Premier League, the Bundesliga – essentially all the top leagues bar La Liga, only about half the games are shown live. In Spain however, they all are. Yes, that’s right. 100% of games.
This, as you can imagine, leads to some rather ridiculous kick off times, which to name but one issue, prevents fans from going to the games and thus coting the club money in revenue.
The teams who get the best kick off times are – you guessed it – Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Del Nido took a swipe at the LFP by claiming to would help “if we knew the match day and times before hand and not ten days before.”
Kicking off at 10pm on a Monday night is the norm for some clubs – Getafe hosted Real Sociedad at that time and even the home fans struggled with public transport at that time. Not to mention the Champions League commitments for Sociedad later that week.
Despite the fact the Premier League may have more of a competitive fight for top spot, Manchester United have their own domination in the Premier League, winning the title 12 times in 20 seasons.
The only teams to put up a significant challenge in the intermittent seasons were Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester City -not forgetting the one win by Blackburn Rovers of course.
It could be argued that the Premier League had been equally predictable, something that when taking a break from watching comedies on Canal + Liga, Barcelona player Gerard Pique took great effort to point out on his twitter account.
It is easy to counter that claim by pointing out the simple fact that if a team such as Chelsea or United lost to a mid table side in England, it is not ideal, but they move on. It does not mean the league is lost. In Spain however, it becomes a national crisis.
It is literally a sackable offence for one of the big two to lose to a side they consider ‘cannon fodder.’
The Spanish national debt has been worried about less than a couple of draws by Real Madrid. Drop five points in the first couple of months and the league is lost before Halloween. Something that is unthinkable in England.
This season, Real Madrid have spent big – and are struggling. Barcelona are flying as per usual. Atleti look the best bet for the second spot on form – but as with last season, their local rivals will expect to get there in the end.
In terms of the Premier League, competition is the name of the game. Six teams think they have a shout at the title this term, not to mention the fact that the so called ‘lesser teams’ are stronger than ever – and it is a better league for it.
La Liga may boast the two best players in the world, but a deviation from the two horse race – something del Nido calls “as much a reality as two plus two is four” – is not on the cards for some time.
What are your thoughts on this? Let us know below or tweet us @LaFootyettes.
10 years ago
Agreed it would be a better alternative but Big Two will resist tooth and nail to maintain their advantage. Always the threat of the break away European League when the big boys are threatened.