(WFI) The new president of the Spanish Football League says La Liga has a fight on its hands off the pitch with both Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga to be second behind the Premier League in the coming years.
Javier Tebas takes the podium Thursday. (INSIDER/D. Ledwith)
Javier Tebas also sent out a cryptic message to Spain’s clubs that “not everything goes, to get what you want” on his first appearance before the media since his position became official last month.
Tebas was talking Thursday at an event in Madrid during which he outlined his plans for his presidency of the LFP, essentially the country’s top two divisions, in a current climate he described last week as being “bad” for the domestic game.
La Liga has been criticized in recent years for lacking competition as giants Barcelona and Real Madrid continue to increase the gap between the rich clubs and the rest. Other problems piling up include match-fixing allegations and a number of clubs with huge debts struggling to survive.
Spanish clubs present Thursday included Atletico Madrid. Its CEO, Miguel Angel Gil, directly asked Tebas if he could clear up when La Liga would finally move to a collective negotiation of TV rights.
Tebas was adamant this will happen by 2015/16, or the season after, stating that until then, the LFP will work on narrowing the gap between the revenues the smallest and largest clubs receive while respecting the individual contracts signed by the clubs.
Tebas says his main goal is to bring La Liga back to a healthy and economically sustainable position within four years.
“We will control the league’s economic situation and reduce the debt of those clubs. If not, we will have failed, but I’m sure that within four years the Spanish league will be in a much healthier state,” he said.
He also had strong words on match-fixing in the wake of allegations that a recent fixture affecting La Liga’s relegation outcome, Deportivo’s 4-0 win at Levante, may have been fixed.
“We have to fight this. I agree with [FIFA President Sepp] Blatter and [UEFA President Michel] Platini that it’s only a small problem affecting perhaps 1 percent of all the games, but it’s a cancer that has to be eradicated, and we all know that with a cancer if it is not caught early it grows into something uncontrollable.”
Tebas takes questions from reporters. (INSIDER/D. Ledwith)
Tebas is for some a controversial choice to preside in Spain. A long-time member of the board and vice president at the LFP, he will share his duties with his day job as a prominent lawyer specializing in the sport, and he has already worked closely with many of the Spanish clubs that are suffering financial problems.
He says he welcomes criticism and wants to generate debate, but for the majority of clubs it is how he is able to control the lofty ambitions of Barcelona and Real Madrid that he will be judged.
He does, however, speak confidently with the air of a man who has decided his time has come to affect change.
“It’s an honor and an opportunity to do this job and an incredible challenge. To achieve our goals, the LFP needs to be more regulating and we need to increase our international expansion,” he said, promising international offices of the organization in the next year in both Asia and North America.
With those objectives in mind, Tebas spoke of the need to change the way Spanish football is televised, with the one free-to-air game a week that is currently protected by Spanish law a particular gripe he intends to get rid of.
He also underlined the need to attack internet piracy, saying domestically Spain is the most pirated country in Europe.
“It is robbing the clubs and has increased by 1,000 percent in Spain. The people who are watching games on illegal links are stealing from football, while the weekly free-to-air match is affecting our incomes. These are two reasons we can’t compete at the moment with our competitors when it come to TV rights,” he said.
INSIDER’s Dermot Ledwith reports from Madrid
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