SportsThe endless war of Spanish football

The endless war of Spanish football

Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga. / REUTERSSusana Vera / Reuters

On Thursday, on the ground floor of the LaLiga headquarters, and after seven hours of intense assembly, Javier Tebas showed fatigue. Dressed in black, and with marked dark circles, the president of the Spanish football association appeared before the press to explain the benefits of the agreement between LaLiga and the British investment fund CVC, which will inject 2,100 million euros to the clubs to be returned in 40 years already low interest, in exchange for giving up 9% of the profits from football broadcasting rights for 50 years.

With 38 votes in favor and four against (Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Athletic and Oviedo), Tebas had just won one of the many battles in the endless war that has been shaking Spanish football for years. However, the clause added at the last minute that allows the four opposing clubs to keep their part of the business is a sign that the conflict, reignited with force after the attempt to create the Super League, has intensified. The previous announcement of legal measures by Real Madrid against the promoters of the agreement, Tebas, the fund and its president, Javier de Jaime, led to this last minute variation. “Tebas was calm before the possible demand of Real Madrid, but to avoid problems and to be effective and practical it was decided that the clubs that did not support him could preserve their part of the business,” says a senior leader of a First Division club.

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Despite taking the pact with CVC forward, Tebas knows that the war will continue and on Thursday, before answering the journalists’ questions, he made a previous speech in which he did not take long to accuse Real Madrid and Barcelona of torpedoing the pact recently approved to favor the creation of the Super League: “They are not interested in a powerful and enhanced league in which their clubs rearm, improve stadiums, become digitized and have more internationalization. They have opposed in a Superliga key ”.

The result of the vote was an X-ray of the two sides that insist on controlling the football business in Spain. Real Madrid, with its president Florentino Pérez at the helm, has been trying to remove Tebas from the LaLiga presidency for some time. The legal office of the Concha Espina club has an almost exclusive dedication to the study and subsequent demand of the projects that LaLiga tries to carry out. The employer has 51 legal actions taken by Real Madrid against the agreements that the entity has signed in recent years. The complaints range from the one filed in 2015 for the centralized sale of television rights to the typeface that must be used on the teams’ jerseys. Thebes and its trusted leaders boast of having won most of the litigation, but some of them admit that the attrition is brutal. “Even if the Super League had not happened, Real Madrid and Barcelona would have voted against it because they are very jealous of their autonomy when it comes to exploiting their rights. They believe that part of them should manage them on their own and the rest of us believe that we are all stronger together, ”argues a professional football manager.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Luis Rubiales, president of the Spanish Federation, make up a powerful alliance that is eagerly seeking the cessation of Thebes. On the other side, Atlético, Valencia, Sevilla, Villarreal, Betis, Real Sociedad, the middle class and the most modest clubs defend that under the management of the current president of the employer’s association, Spanish professional football has eluded the bankruptcy and has been able to circumvent the economic effects derived from the coronavirus crisis thanks to economic control and centralized commercialization of football broadcasting rights. The agreement with the CVC fund is defended by the followers of Thebes as a necessary investment for the growth of the Spanish soccer industry. LaLiga estimates that the value of the rights may grow 30% in the coming years after signing with the British fund.

The war has raged so fiercely that in the days after the agreement was leaked, a more belligerent Florentino Pérez has emerged if possible against Tebas. The publication of The confidential of the audios in which the president of Real Madrid criticized symbols of the club such as Casillas, Raúl or Cristiano Ronaldo have been interpreted by the Madrid boss as the trigger for a total war against him. Despite having managed to preserve the business part of the agreement with CVC, the white club is studying how to address the demand it announced. That Tebas can be the president of the new company that manages the agreement with the fund and his permanence in that position if one day he ceases to preside over LaLiga, not having called a public contest, as Athletic stated in a statement, or the 50 Years of duration of the agreement are on the table.

For the hardening of the battle, Pérez has found an unexpected ally in Barcelona and Joan Laporta. In his appearance before the media on Thursday, Tebas revealed that on July 2 he informed the Barça leader of the pact. This was initially in agreement, but Tebas did not guarantee that Messi’s registration could be added a formula that would also allow the registration of Memphis Depay, Èric García and Agüero.Since then, the top leader of LaLiga has not stopped charge against Laporta and the new CEO of Barcelona, ​​Ferran Reverter, whom he considers a neophyte with the pretense of a know-it-all.

Real Madrid’s complaints about the agreement include not having been informed in advance. Tebas argues this, alluding to the fact that the multitude of demands that the Concha Espina club has placed on LaLiga prevent it, by strategy, from revealing such agreements to white leaders ahead of time. Another proof of the frenzy that has brought to light the pact with CVC and which is not seen as final.

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