Spanish sports minister demands changes to Liga rights sales

Spain’s secretary for sport, Miguel Cardinal, has called for changes to the way the country’s football league, La Liga, sells its media rights and handles its commercial interests.

Cardinal, speaking at the Space Forum 2014-AS yesterday, said change was required to the domestic media rights sales process in order to prevent late deals such as those agreed between the Mediapro agency and Prisa media group for this season’s coverage, just days before the start of the season.

“It is a problem with decentralised sales. We have doubts over who is going to have the rights three days before the start of the season,” he said. “The Champions League rights are sold one and a half years before the competition begins. That is where we want to get to. That there is an agreement on distribution and that the sale can be ordered.”

He also warned that splitting the rights fees generated by the league more evenly amongst the clubs would not solve the financial equality between the bigger and smaller teams, and that further measures needed to be implemented. In Spain, football clubs negotiate individual broadcasting rights contracts, which has led to a huge gap between the income of the bigger and smaller clubs.

“Making a change to the division of TV rights will not achieve economic equality amongst the teams. It is not possible for the smaller teams to combat against the phenomenon of some brands (Real Madrid and Barcelona) that are known all around the world,” he said.

The problem in Spain is that it is “about individual teams and not about the league competition,” he said. “There are individual interests. But the big teams can’t do anything on their own. They need the other teams. We must change the business culture of our teams in professional sports and thereby improve the overall competition. We should be learning from others. We still have a long way to go.”