Strike at La Liga football clubs threatens in protest against new sports law

by Lorraine Williamson
football strike

MADRID – The majority of top Spanish football teams have threatened to go on strike against a change in sports law that they say would favour big clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona. 

The Spanish government wants to approve the law before the end of the year. There are two main issues in the debate over the law that has the support of Spain’s ruling socialists and the main opposition party, the conservative People’s Party (PP). 

The first issue, according to ESPN, concerns an agreement reached with private equity firm CVC. Moreover, they paid €2 billion in exchange for 8.2% of the income from La Liga image rights over 50 years. Moreover, the new sports law protects this agreement. 

According to La Liga, the deal will give the football league a cash injection. This would allow it to compete with the English Premier League. Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao are against a more equitable distribution of football revenues among all clubs. These clubs would like to return to the old football model. However, this has huge inequalities between clubs and severely limits the growth of more modest clubs. 

RFEF questions the legality of the deal 

However, the Spanish Football Federation RFEF argues that the agreement with CVC forgets about modest amateur clubs and questions the legality of the deal. “Now the government and the main opposition party are going to change the rules of the game and make legal what is illegal? That would be very serious,” RFEF chairman Luis Rubiales told El Pais daily. 

Penalties for participating in unapproved competitions 

The second issue is that La Liga wants the new sports law to make it possible to penalise clubs that play in competitions it does not approve of. This would include the proposed European Super League, a football competition for elite European clubs. Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus were among the main initiators of this competition. 

Advertisement against Super League 

On Tuesday, La Liga ran an ad in several Spanish newspapers. The football league defended the need for a sports law “that would not promote the creation of a Super League that seriously harms Spanish football”. According to La Liga, the government had agreed to address these concerns in the new sports law. However, the changes requested were eventually removed from the legislation. This would have been done as a concession to the two biggest Spanish clubs Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. 

Football strike as a last resort 

The amendment in question would allow La Liga and RFEF to deny licenses to clubs participating in leagues not recognised by these federations. A strike by the biggest football clubs to stop La Liga would be the last resort to counter this amendment. 

The three founding clubs of the Super League, Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus, are currently awaiting a ruling from the European Court of Justice. This is expected in December. Furthermore, it will determine whether UEFA’s control of European football constitutes an illegal monopoly under EU competition law. 

Super League 

The owners of several European top clubs caused a huge commotion within the football world with their initiative to establish a Super League in the 2021/2022 season. Only the biggest football clubs in Europe would play against each other in the Super League. Immediately after the announcement, rained criticism, anger and indignation from all over the football world and football fans. 

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