MADRID (Reuters) - A new Spanish sports law will include an obligation for football clubs to negotiate the sale of television rights collectively as in other major European leagues, secretary of state for sport Miguel Cardenal said on Thursday.
The legislation, expected to be presented towards the end of this year, would do away with the practice of clubs signing deals with broadcasters individually, Cardenal said in an interview with radio station Cope.
Under the current system, Real Madrid and Barcelona, the world’s richest clubs by income, split around half of the total pot of 650 million euros ($847.73 million) for La Liga rights between them.
Their domestic rivals, many of whom are in dire financial straits, are left to fight over the scraps and find it impossible to compete with the two heavyweights.
“It’s an extremely important issue because it’s the main source of funding (for the clubs),” Cardenal said.
“The idea is that the new law will regulate the collective sale (of TV rights) and that they will be sold in a single package,” he added.
Real earned 199.2 million euros from broadcasting rights, including European games, in the 2011-12 season, the most of any club, according to the latest Deloitte Football Money League published in January.
Barca were second with 179.8 million, with European champions Chelsea a distant third on 139.4 million.
Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, who are through to this season’s Champions League semi-finals to face Barca and Real respectively, earned 81.4 million and 60.4 million from broadcasting, the report showed.
Analysts have long argued that Spain needs to adopt a system of collective bargaining and income sharing or else more of its professional clubs will follow Deportivo La Coruna, Real Zaragoza and Real Betis and others into administration.
Real and Barca have come under pressure to agree a fairer distribution but analysts say the latest collective deal struck by the English Premier League, which will boost revenue by 70 percent over three years, makes it unlikely they will give up their current dominance.
Significantly, Cardenal said it would be up to the clubs themselves to decide how the money is shared out, although he added that “it would be natural to expect the gap between those who get the most and those who get the least to narrow”.
Many clubs have TV deals running for the next two or three years, meaning change would not happen in the short term.
Barca earned 163 million euros and Real 156 million from TV rights in the 2010-11 season, according to a study by a University of Barcelona accounting professor.
Their income dwarfed the 42 million earned by Valencia, who finished a distant third in La Liga last term, 39 points behind champions Real.
Malaga, who were fourth, earned 14.8 million and Europa League and King’s Cup finalists Athletic Bilbao 17.8 million.
($1 = 0.7668 euros)
Reporting by Iain Rogers; Editing by John O'Brien