LaLiga to appeal court ruling on Monday fixture ban

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) has called for the resignation of LaLiga president Javier Tebas, while the organising body of the top two divisions of domestic club football has said it will launch an appeal following a court ruling that matches cannot be played on Mondays.

Judge Andrés Sánchez Magro’s verdict in a Madrid court applies to matches in LaLiga and the second-tier Segunda Division, allowing matches on Fridays but not on Mondays.

LaLiga presented its schedule to the RFEF earlier this summer, including slots for matches to be played on Mondays and Fridays, only for the governing body to veto the possibility of matches being played on those two days.

The RFEF had claimed the change would improve conditions for LaLiga fans in Spain, who it argues do not want games played on those two days. LaLiga argued that Friday and Monday matches opened up revenue opportunities through broadcast rights, with Mediapro chief executive Jaume Roures having warned that LaLiga could lose 30 per cent of its media-rights income if legislation was introduced limiting Spanish football matches to weekends.

Judge Magro ruled that LaLiga must deposit €15m ($16.8m) to RFEF in return for permission to stage Friday matches, a figure based on the estimated €30m valuation of broadcast rights to Monday and Friday games made by Mediapro.

The 2019-20 LaLiga season is scheduled to kick off on Friday, when Athletic Bilbao play Barcelona. Spanish newspaper AS said LaLiga has called its clubs to a summit meeting today (Monday), adding that this could have an impact on whether the 2019-20 season commences as scheduled.

The RFEF and LaLiga have been locked in a long-term war of words, with federation president Luis Rubiales and Tebas having a frosty relationship. In the wake of Friday’s court ruling, Rubiales said: “It is quite clear that the judge recognises the powers of the RFEF, and therefore, that LaLiga does not have the power to extend these competitions. It is necessary that the RFEF authorise any change.”

RFEF spokesman Alfredo Olivares issued a stinging attack on Tebas and LaLiga, stating that the court ruling upholds the federation’s position as the regulatory body of Spanish football. Olivares said: “The RFEF will not allow our teams to suffer damage due to Mr. Tebas’ attitude. We will always look out for the interests of professional and non-professional football.

“During the past week and in the last few days we have witnessed unprecedented media pressure, promoted by Mr. Tebas regarding the debate on Monday matches. A campaign, with disqualifications, accusations and false arguments, all with a single objective: to cover up his own responsibility.

“Mr. Tebas has lacked the truth, has misinformed clubs by stealing information, has diverted attention, has assumed improper powers, has sold the rights he does not have and has refused to engage in dialogue, has been disloyal to the Government of Spain and with football. All this, we must insist, to cover up their own responsibility.”

Regarding Tebas’ position, the RFEF spokesman added: “Mr. Tebas has put Spanish football in check. His megalomania has placed football in an unsustainable crisis. Professional clubs should study whether Mr. Tebas has carried out proper administration of the institution.

“In our opinion, Mr. Tebas…cannot continue another minute in front of LaLiga. Therefore, from the RFEF we believe that the tenure of Mr. Tebas has to end.”

In response, LaLiga said it does not agree with the court ruling and will proceed to exercise its right to appeal the decision. Before appealing, LaLiga said it will produce a clarification document outlining how the ruling contains “clear contradictions and passes judgment over issues it was not required to without offering sound judicial motives, arguments or reasoning”.

LaLiga added in a statement: “Despite this ruling, LaLiga will continue to guarantee both national and international television broadcasters 10 different, non-overlapping match slots in LaLiga Santander, satisfying the majority of fans both in Spain and across the world who attend matches in stadiums and pay subscriptions to different television platforms.

“LaLiga will individually contact operators who broadcast its football matches and do all it can to ensure that the negative effects on its clubs and affiliated public limited sports companies are as limited as possible.”