Primera Division clubs threaten start of Spanish season
08 Aug 2012
The prospect that the start of the Spanish Primera Division season could be delayed for the second successive year has again become a distinct possibility after 13 top flight clubs threatened to postpone the August 18-19 kick-off amid a variety of concerns surrounding television rights.
Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Real Mallorca, Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano, Real Sociedad, Sevilla and Real Zaragoza on Tuesday released a list of demands which included a call for the Spanish Football League (LFP) to form a “transparent and regulated” system for drawing up kickoff times. Several clubs have voiced their frustration at games being scheduled as late as 23:00 CET in the opening round of fixtures, stating that the drawing up of kick-offs favours some clubs.
However, the main area of dissatisfaction revolves around the current battle for supremacy between pay-television operator Prisa and the Mediapro agency. The LFP said last week that the 2012-13 season would definitely start on August 18 despite the threat of legal action by Prisa against Mediapro. Prisa has accused Mediapro of launching an “illegal” sales process for rights covering the country’s top two football divisions for the next two seasons.
An end to the dispute appears unlikely before the start of the new season and the 13 clubs have stated the Prisa-Mediapro battle has created “a situation of serious legal insecurity which affects all the clubs”. They have called on the companies to settle any outstanding debts with the clubs and to drop any legal demands against them. The clubs said in a statement: “In the event that an acceptable solution for a majority of first division clubs is not achieved, the clubs are prepared to adopt whatever measures necessary, including postponing the start of the 2012-13 league championship.” The 13 clubs have called for a meeting of all 20 Primera Division members on August 14 to discuss and vote on the demands. The 2011-12 Primera Division season started a week late after the players’ union (AFE) called a stoppage in a bid to aid players whose wages had not been paid, especially those at clubs suffering from financial difficulties.