MADRID (Reuters) - La Liga expects to cut the gap with the Premier League and come close to matching its financial strength by 2020, the Spanish soccer federation’s president Javier Tebas said on Friday.
La Liga is predicting total revenues of 3.32 billion euros ($3.58 billion) at the end of the current season, a 1.23 billion-euro increase from the 2011-12 campaign and around 270 million euros up from last year.
Despite Spanish clubs having many of the world’s leading players, including Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, La Liga remained a distant second to the English Premier League in terms of being the most profitable league in Europe.
“We are creating a growth strategy to compete with our rivals, the Premier League, Formula One and the NBA,” Tebas told reporters on Friday when unveiling this season’s projections.
Real Madrid and Barcelona, Spain’s two biggest clubs, generate 37 percent of the total revenue.
The increase is mostly attributed to TV rights that were 1.13 billion euros in the 2015-16 campaign, 32 percent up on the previous season.
La Liga predicts a further 23.7 percent increase in TV revenue this season for a total 1.4 billion euros.
Premier League clubs generated a record revenue of 3.4 billion pounds ($4.25 billion at the current exchange rate) in the 2014-15 season, a three percent increase from the previous campaign. Accountancy firm Deloitte projected that that figure will grow by over 20 percent in 2016-17 to more than 4.3 billion pounds.
The Bundesliga, meanwhile, had 3.24 billion euros in revenue for the 2015-16 campaign, breaking its record for a 12th consecutive year, an increase of 23.7 percent compared to the previous financial year (2.62 billion euros).
Economic control measures imposed by Spain’s Superior Sports Council (CSD) in April 2012 and UEFA‘S financial fair play have helped reduce the debt of the 42 clubs in Spain’s top two divisions in recent years.
As of December 2016, Spanish clubs have a total debt of 184 million euros in unpaid tax with the country’s treasury, a drastic reduction from the 750 million they owed four years ago.
La Liga expects to reduce the debt to 50 million euros by 2020.
“As a business we compare ourselves with the Premier League and in terms of solvency, with the Bundesliga,” Tebas said. “I settle for being 15 percent behind the Premier League by 2020.”
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Reporting by Adriana Garcia, editing by Pritha Sarkar