Atlético Madrid chief calls for Spanish rights reform

Atlético Madrid chief executive Miguel Angel Gil said that the future of Spanish football is under threat unless the sport’s broadcast rights model in the country is adapted.

“We want a league that is solvent and competitive,” Atlético chief executive Miguel Angel Gil said. “To achieve that, it is fundamental that the gap in budgets and revenues is narrowed and that there is a fairer distribution of [cash from] television rights. Only in that way can a more just, more competitive and more attractive league be achieved. Atlético, like the rest of the clubs, will do everything in its power to defend its interests. The future of our football is at stake.”

Last month, Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido stepped up his campaign for the Spanish Liga, the top tier of football in the country, to adopt a collective model for its broadcast rights by claiming that 13 clubs are now behind the proposal. Under the current arrangement, which allows clubs to negotiate their own rights deals, FC Barcelona and Real Madrid generate far higher rights revenues than their rivals.

Gil also expressed his fears over the current dispute between pay-television operator Prisa and the Mediapro agency. Last week, Prisa accused Mediapro of launching an “illegal” sales process for rights covering the country’s top two football divisions for the next two seasons, 2012-13 to 2013-14, with the new season scheduled to start on August 18.

“The atmosphere of confrontation, both between the two broadcasters and the clubs, may not only bring about the break-up of the league but also the bankruptcy of the clubs,” Gil said. “Because there is no ordered economic model for exploiting TV rights the clubs have to wait until just before the championship begins to see if the broadcasters can agree. The uncertainty, right up to the last minute, means it’s impossible to set out any social, sporting, commercial or economic strategy for the club.”