There is a very famous, age-old saying – “Too many cooks make an excellent broth”. That’s not how it goes? Well, it does according to the Spanish footballing authorities- RFEF and La Liga anyways. In an era where the English league authorities have shown the way to go about making your league irresistible with lucrative deals, huge television broadcast money, and excellent promotion, Spanish authorities have just squabbled between themselves.
Latest in line of their feud is the scheduling of the league games on a new Friday and Monday slot in addition to the weekend slot. Here, we take a look at what the issue is, its effect and where things stand as of now.
The Spanish League is held under the helm of the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF), who in turn have the La Liga taking care of the first two divisions of the Spanish league football. Their respective heads Luis Rubiales and Javier Tebas have long been in a feud over various decisions related to the league; the most famous one was the opposition of the RFEF to Tebas’ decision to schedule Girona vs Barcelona in the USA last season. Their difference in the visions took the wrong turn last month when the La Liga released the schedule for the first three rounds of the La Liga fixtures. In line with their television deals, La Liga scheduled games on Friday and Monday in addition to the weekend slot. In response RFEF’s head Rubiales tweeted:
“The RFEF don’t AUTHORIZE La Liga games on Fridays (without an agreement) or Mondays,
The Superior Council of Sports (CSD) meets with us on this on July 17 and Javier Tebas has blown up the meeting and won’t give the time of day to football, fans and even the CSD. We continue to say the same: THERE WILL BE NO FOOTBALL ON MONDAYS.”
When the issue was brought up in Spain’s ‘Competition Committee’ meeting, the judge ruled in favour of the RFEF which amended the kickoff times for the matches. All the games were moved to the weekend slot, where the resolution stipulated that moving forward, La Liga needed the permission from the RFEF to schedule the games on any other days other than Saturday and Sunday. La Liga was furious with the ruling, releasing the statement against the “attack” by the Spanish Federation. The matter was taken to the court on August 7 to find a solution to the escalating tensions.
In a decision made by the Madrid based judge Andres Sanchez Magro, a compromise was reached whereby the Monday time slot was scrapped for the first three games but La Liga got their wish to schedule the Friday night games.
What are the implications?
The Spanish football has long been embroiled in the ‘who’s got the bigger undercarriage’ war between Rubiales and Tebas. Rubiales has argued that scheduling the games late on Fridays and Mondays makes it hard for the fans to attend matches. Tebas, meanwhile, has tried to increase the brand of La Liga around the world. He has consistently aimed to bring in the television deals for the La Liga closer to the exorbitant levels of money that the Premier League generates with its deals. Failure to fill in the Friday and Monday slots will put the contracts signed for the television rights worth 2.3 billion euros for the 2019/20 season, in jeopardy. The television operators have already warned that they will take necessary measures if the contracts are breached. Their point is that avoiding the fixture overlapping makes it easy for the fans all over the world see multiple games. That in turns increases the popularity of the league all over the world, generating revenue for the league and the clubs.
In their fighting to provide a better league for the ‘fans’ both the bodies have ensured that in the end, it’s the average fan that ‘loses’. Their failure to release time slots for the games has made it difficult for the fans to buy tickets to the games and make travel arrangements. Often there are last-minute changes to kick-off times in days leading up to the games.
But the saga is far from being resolved. The ruling has allocated the time slots for the first three matchdays, which means, buckle up, the drama isn’t over. Not yet.