September 28, 2010 / 8:30 AM / 9 years ago

Soccer-La Liga inching toward TV revenue sharing, LFP says

VALENCIA, Spain, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Top La Liga clubs including Real Madrid and Barcelona may be close to a deal under which TV income would be shared more equitably, according to the president of the professional soccer league (LFP).

“We had a meeting and a proposal was made to share income according to percentages linked to audience share, a fixed percentage and (further percentages) that fluctuate according to historical results,” LFP president Jose Luis Astiazaran said in an interview published in Marca sports daily on Tuesday.

“There are internal contacts between the clubs and, above all, between Real Madrid and Barcelona, with the aim of making a proposal on Oct. 5.”

However, he said most clubs had TV deals that ran until 2013 or 2014 and any changes would probably not be introduced until 2015 as it was “important to reach a consensus”.

Spanish clubs do not currently use the system of revenue sharing common in rival European leagues and Real and Barca, the world’s richest clubs by income, get around half the total pot of around 600 million euros ($801 million).

Poorer clubs have urged the government to introduce collective negotiation to boost their competitiveness and help them avoid insolvency.

But secretary of state for sport Jaime Lissavetzky has said he will not legislate to force clubs to adopt a fairer system.

A study published in May by Sport+Markt, a consulting firm, showed Real and Barca earned almost 19 times more from TV deals than the smallest clubs in the top division, by far the biggest gap among European leagues.

The richest clubs in the English Premier League, by contrast, earned around 1.7 times more than their smaller rivals, the study showed.

The current system means most clubs are unable to meet the huge wage demands of top players or pay the massive transfer fees needed to buy them.

Barca set a new points record in winning La Liga last season and Real were three points behind in second. Valencia, who were forced to sell prize assets David Villa and David Silva in the close season, were 25 points back in third.

ERRONEOUS CONCEPT

Lissavetzky, who heads the government council responsible for regulating Spanish sport (CSD), has also said a planned “sports law” to be introduced this year will create an independent body to control clubs’ finances, with powers to punish transgressors by excluding them from competition.

The 20 La Liga clubs had combined debt of 3.526 billion euros in 2008/09, up from 3.49 billion the previous season, according to a study published in May by University of Barcelona accounting professor Jose Maria Gay.

Astiazaran said the LFP opposed the creation of an external control body and wanted to set up its own committee to regulate clubs’ finances, with “independent members” to assess solvency.

“We don’t want an external body because the league will show sufficient credibility to have its own system,” he told Marca.

Among possible measures to rein in excessive spending by clubs, Astiazaran said a salary cap was “an erroneous concept”. A cap on “investment in the squad” was one system being considered instead.

“That is to say, you can invest an amount in the squad based on a proportion of your revenue,” he said.

The cap would be introduced in steps and could rise as high as 70 percent, he added.

Lissavetzky said in May the government was considering rules that would prevent clubs spending more than about 70 or 75 percent of their income on salaries and player purchases.

Sevilla, Atletico Madrid and Valencia all spent more than 120 percent of their operating income on labour costs in the 2008/09 season, according to Gay’s study.

Reporting by Iain Rogers; Editing by Alastair Himmer; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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