With everyone drooling over the sparkling play of the Spanish U21s, who are remarkable I must say, I thought it was vital that I shed some light on their domestic situation. This article hurts to write, as it would to any La Liga fan, but hopefully it will shed light on the future of Spanish Football and its demise on the Global Stage.
Now before I begin, I want to make sure I am not misunderstood. La Liga remains in the top 3 leagues in the World. I’m certain that simply cannot be denied. It holds some of the most powerful assets in the world of football. Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are undoubtedly the two of the best players in the world. However, inequality and financial difficulties are driving it into the ground and the press aren’t helping either.
The last time I visited Andalucia, when talking to locals about the issues that were being presented to La Liga, a recurring theme was the press. One man spoke about how ‘the press is destroying Spanish football, they only want to talk about who Ronaldo is sleeping with and how pretty the players wives are.’
Shocked as I was by this, I was definitely skeptical. But the reality is, this is totally true. Every day more and more La Liga viewers are turning their backs on football due to the rubbish that is presented in Press Conferences and the slander that takes place. This is a small factor in the ongoing demise of La Liga of course, but every actor has his role to play.
Spain’s ever growing unemployment stats continue to rise, GDP per capita isn’t increasing and economic growth is, in plain terms, pathetic.
The image above shows the overall decline of Spanish GDP. For thickees like me, it means that Spain’s economic growth is in the red. In other words, it’s not growing. This, like it would for any country, is causing serious issues.
As much as football is a way of life in Spain, people have to face the facts, it is just too expensive. People aren’t going to matches anymore and this directly effects the imbalance of the league. As these clubs are losing revenue through ticket sales, there are less tickets being sold and less money being made. Many clubs cannot afford the monstrous wages of their players. Sevilla are an example of this.
These clubs must sell their best players to keep their boats floating and avoid going bankrupt. They then drop down the table season on season, picking up less money from placing higher up the table. Every place is worth upto to 1m euros. In TV Deal terms this is a massive loss. The gap between 1st and 4th place is some 60m euros, enough to fund a summer spending spree. So whilst Barcelona and Real Madrid alternate to take in the prize money and television deal money, the others are fizzling out and the gap increases between the big boys and the rest of Spain.
In an interview Ramon Calderon, the Ex-Presidente of Real Madrid, described the problem, and this is what he had to say about it:
‘I think instead of reducing the money the top clubs get from TV Deals, we should increase the money the lower clubs get from these TV Deals.’
I am thinking exactly what you are thinking. He’s a bit of an old cogder who can’t do his maths right. Where is this extra money going to come from? There is a set amount that is produced from Television deals and no more. So you cannot simply say ‘give the lower clubs more money and keep the same amount for the higher clubs’. It just doesn’t work, does it?
This inequality in La Liga and the ongoing economic crisis are dragging the pristine image of La Liga through the mud. However you may well ask the question: what about Real Sociedad, Real Betis, Rayo Vallecano? You could even ask about Atlético Madrid, who have all been superb this season running on just 10 percent the budget of Barcelona and Real Madrid. I could be very pessimistic indeed and tell you Seville, San Sebastian and Madrid are affected slightly less than other parts of the country, but overall they have tailored themselves to this system very well.
In Betis’ case they have brought in the likes of Dorlan Pabon and Joel Campbell on loan, a free and effective way of improving your squad without having to spend money. In Real Sociedad’s case, 9 of their starting 11 are from the Basque country and one of the others is French U21 superstar Antoine Griezmann, who was unknown before joining La Real, an extremely smart piece of business indeed. Everyone knows the story with Rayo, scout a youngster with bags of talent and sell him on for a hefty profit. Atlético have a similar policy.
So iis it curtains for the Spanish La Liga after all then? Well unless the inequality of the Liga reduces significantly, I am afraid it may just turn into an SPL equivalent; two big boys buying up all the players and taking a hefty cut of the TV deals, whilst the rest of the clubs fizzle out of competition.
Sociedad are one of the many producing their own talent for next to nothing, with Asier Illaramendi one of the noticeable stars in their set up.
Robin Van kloeze, TiF La Liga writer. (@RobinVanKloezej)
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