Spanish season to shut down in TV rights row
07 May 2015, 10:42
Madrid - The race for Spain's La Liga title faces a chaotic conclusion after the country's football federation said Wednesday it would cancel all domestic matches in a row over TV rights.
The proposed shutdown called by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) will first affect the penultimate round of fixtures due to take place on May 17.
The RFEF said in a statement it will "suspend competitions of all categories starting from May 16 indefinitely".
"At the same time, once more we reiterate the RFEF is open to dialogue with the Spanish government."
If there is no resolution to the dispute, the key May 17 title clash between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid would fall victim to the stoppage as would the concluding weekend.
The Spanish Cup final, set for May 30 between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, would also not take place.
The new TV deal signed into law on April 30 by the Spanish government was seen as a means of helping loosen the financial stranglehold of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two giants of the Spanish game.
Under the new government plan, announced last week, the tradition of clubs being allowed to negotiate their own TV deals would end.
Instead, the rights would be auctioned just as they are in England's lucrative Premier League.
The RFEF said it was unhappy over the partition of the money as well as the reduction of revenue from betting streams.
The federation added that it denounced "the continued interference" of government bodies in football.
Sports minister Jose Ignacio Wert said the new deal meant a fairer distribution of finances around the league including clubs who struggle in the shadows of Real and Barcelona, two of the richest clubs in the world.
Wert said that the Premier League in England generated 1.8 billion euros in 2013-2014 from TV deals compared to 800 million in Spain.
La Liga chiefs were hoping to claim a billion euros in the new system.
The English Premier League's last TV deal was believed to have generated an astronomical 6.9 billion euros for the 2016-2019.
The RFEF accused the government of having a "disrespectful attitude" towards them.
"Our proposals, if they had been listened to, would have brought benefits and improvements to Spanish football.
"In exchange for our co-operation and selfless help, certain basic rights have been expropriated, including the right to broadcasting," added the RFEF statement.
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In another twist earlier this week, the AFE players union threatened strike action in protest at being excluded from the negotiations.
Argentine superstar Lionel Messi had even added his voice to supporting industrial action.
"The AFE have met with us. The players are with them in what they say," said Messi.
Meanwhile, the legitimacy of the RFEF decision was questioned by the Spanish Professional Football League (LFP) who considered the suspension of matches to be "null and void".
"The decision of the RFEF is null and void ....because the Sports Act and the existing Coordination Agreement give authority to the LFP to organize professional competitions and the sporting calendar," said the LFP in a statement.