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May 8, 2015

Excuse the mess but we live here. Roseanne Barr

This could happen only in Spain. The league is all set for a photo finish with both FC Barcelona and Real Madrid racing neck to neck, with no space for any slip. In such a back drop, all discussion should be about how it will all span out or at least whether Messi is human or not! But Spanish League being Spanish League, that wasn't to be the case. Now one of the most promising end of La Liga Title Race is under threat of being killed prematurely by utter stupidity and confusion from the part of Spanish Federation (RFEF), Spanish Football League (LFP), Spanish professional footballers' union (AFE) and of course the Spanish Government. For those who are not much aware of what is going on, here is a recap. It all started with the Spanish Government approving a law governing the sale of television rights to broadcast football games and the distribution of the income. Technically the law has to be passed by the Parliament, but it is safe to assume that it would sail through the house.

So what does the law actually means? It simply puts an end to the practice of individual clubs selling their TV rights and instead the League collectively sell teh right (like they have in England). Once sold by the League, the total amount each club will receive will depend on last season's result, result over previous five season and the social weight of the clubs. Is it a bad thing? No, its a very very good thing. Its been the demand of the so called "The Other League" clubs for sometime. Every time they used to protest but in the end used to surrender to whatever that is thrown to them. The TV rights income distribution is literally put "A War Crime" in La Liga. Just look at how much the top three clubs earned last season in comparison to EPL. The top two, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona earned more than the top teams in Premier League whereas Atletico Madrid, last seasons Champion earned less than the bottom placed team in English Premier League. It is this disparity which is forcing every Spanish Club other than the "Big Two" to sell their best player every summer.

Once the TV rights are dealt collectively, the take home of the "Big Two" may see a bit of reduction. Some pundits argue that there may not be much of a reduction as collectively they would be able to get a much higher price of the TV rights and that will offset any potential loss. If that happens we will be looking a La Liga clubs with enough cash to go to market and also improve their domestic training facility. That can only sound good for the league. Teams like Valencia, Atletcio, Sevilla and Villareal who all have massive fan following could see their revenue increasing multi-fold. Just think what would have happened to Atletcio if they didn't have to sell their marquee players from last season? Even they are rumoured to lose their best player of this season, Giezmann this summer!

So if it such a good thing, then why the strike? That is the mess all the associations I Have mentioned in my opening paragraph has put us in. The Spanish Federation(RFEF) is very much unhappy that they have been kept out of the benefit of such a deal. They are entitled to only 4.55% of the money which is generated from the TV Rights. That is the actual bone of contention. To add to the mess the Spanish professional footballers' union (AFE) have supported RFE stands because they believe they are getting very unfairly treatment. The AFE has two extremely legitimate issues with the new law. First they feel they are not getting any effective share from the deal. In other countries the Footballers get 1.5% of the deal and they would also like something similar to that. But the second one is more legitimate in my opinion. They are up in arms at the proposed revenue sharing model between the Primera and Segunda divisions. The currently proposed law has a revenue distribution of 90% to Primera Division and 10% to Segunda. That is nuts. This could only increase the gap in salaries between the players in the top two divisions. Many of the clubs who will get relegated to Segunda division could become bankrupt, which is a usual occurrence in Spain. Because of this they are supporting the strike call made by RFEF.

What will happen to the League now? No sure entirely! The Spanish football league (LFP) has suggested they will take legal action against RFEF and AFE for the strike call. RFEF and AFE needs changes to the new law, which could be extremely difficult! Why? The law is passed by Government and no Government would like to be dictated by any Federation; especially when its a newly passed law. The strike call is for indefinite strke from May 16, which means that the last two round of matches and the Copa Del Rey final all are in jeopardy. The LFP who have the Government's backing may proceed with the the legal action considering their part to be strong. But FIFA always will support RFEF and that means any decision taken by RFEF will be supported by FIFA and UEFA. So the stalemate could see Spanish teams being omitted from competitions and signings (as FIFA needs to approve a lot of them).

With AFE supporting the strike, LFP may need to field themselves to play if they want to complete the last two rounds. The stalemate which is staring right in front of us may plunge the League into never ending Chaos. The bigger question would be what was the need for the Government to bring such a law at this stage of the season and with no consultation with RFEF and AFE? They could have waited for end of June and easily could have got two months for all negotiations and consultations. Doing such would have allowed every representative to concede some of their demands. Currently the way it is the chances of negotiations will be extremely thin. One option will be for the Government to intervene and ask the RFEF and AFE to allow the season to end without any issues. Then they could go on for consultation with RFEF and AFE to resolve any issues. That will give time for every participants. Let's all hope and pray that better sense prevails; the Government may need to take the lead over here and that too now.

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