'Spanish football in danger of dying out'

Last Updated: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 12:12

Madrid: Economist Jose Maria Gay de Liebana has warned Spanish football clubs that the sport is in danger of dying out in the country.

It seems hard to believe in a football mad country such as Spain, where the sport is still the major topic of conversation, that the sport will disappear. But Gay de Liebana warns that the economic crisis is causing major problems to the majority of Spanish clubs, reports Xinhua.

"The Spanish league is not growing, there are only two teams, which are growing: Barcelona and Real Madrid," he said in a conference held in Barcelona.

"The remaining clubs are in the same position they were five years ago. Spanish football is dying and I think it has around five years left to live and the grounds are proving me to correct, because it is no longer attractive," continued Gay de Liebana.

Attendances are further being hit in Spain this season by the decision to screen live football on pay channels in eight different time slots, making it more tempting for fans to stay at home rather than go to matches.

Meanwhile, the constant change of kick-off time is also confusing and frustrating supporters.

The economist highlights the unfair distribution of TV rights money, which is negotiated on a club by club basis.

This allows the big two clubs in Spain to use their weight and means Real Madrid and Barca take almost 50 percent of the total revenue from TV for the entire Primera Liga, almost four times more than any other club in Spain.

This contrasts with other leagues, where the clubs negotiate a contract as a whole and the division of money is much fairer.

Gay de Liebana highlights that between 2010 and 2011 Barca and Madrid were the only two teams in Spain capable of generating huge earnings, with Barca bringing in 450.7 million euros and Madrid, 479.3 million euros.

The next highest earner was Valencia, who finished third in the league. Valencia earned 119.6 million euros, while Atletico Madrid earned 99.9 million and Sevilla 82.9 million.

Reigning Europa League champions, Atletico Madrid have just had an embargo placed on them by UEFA because of unpaid debts, the same as Malaga, who last season finished fourth in Spain behind, Real Madrid, Barca and Valencia.

Gay de Liebana believes part of the solution to the problem could be to expand the Spanish league into an `Iberian` League, in which way the main Portuguese clubs: Sporting Club of Portugal, Benfica and Porto could be included.

He believes that would increase the fanbase, attendances and the competitiveness of football in the region.


First Published: Saturday, September 22, 2012 - 12:21

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