La Liga: Economic Crisis, Two-Horse Race, & More: A Roundtable Discussion
Welcome to the first edition of Bleacher Report's newest series focusing on all the majors events in La Liga.
We have compiled BR's top Spanish football writers for a roundtable discussion that will covers various topics changing from week to week.
The topics will range from important matches in a certain week to overarching questions from this season. We will look at individual teams as well as the league as a whole.
We start the new series by tackling perhaps the biggest, most pressing questions about the league.
After reading through these questions, our hope is that readers will be more informed by seeing different viewpoints and will actively partake in discussions.
Feel free to leave us comments, messages, and/or tweets telling us what topics you'd like to see discussed on any given week.
This series will be a weekly occurrence every Tuesday going forward.
Let's get straight to it, then.
Group of Writers
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First, introductions are in order. Here are the columnists who will partake in this series.
Roberto Alvarez-Galloso is one of Bleacher Report's writers for FC Barcelona, La Liga, and the Spanish National Football Team. He has a Spanish Language Video Blog called Socka Zone which deals mainly with FC Barcelona. Follow @AlvarezGalloso
1. Are Events Like What Happened in Vallecas Expected or Warranted Now?
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Matthew—I don’t see why it should be unexpected. Fans are getting understandably tired of the broken system in La Liga and are protesting in the way they know how.
Is vandalism the answer? It might be the only way to get a message across to La Liga as a whole that there's a problem.
Let’s hope that the message is heard before more acts of vandalism occur or responses escalate.
2. Are Barcelona and Real Madrid to Blame?
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Michael—Of course they are, they are the ones preventing more equal distribution of revenue—understandably so. But the rest of the league has had a huge role here as well.
Too many clubs have been terribly mismanaged, while others have had owners who treated the club as their own second bank accounts. Lack of revenue is a result of the Big Two. Huge debt levels and owed taxes are not.
Many Spanish club didn't even have English versions of their websites until very recently, and marketing is simply horrid for nearly every team outside of the Big Two.
There is very little interest in the league for new fans apart from Real Madrid and Barcelona and that is as much these teams' fault as the gap in revenue.
3. When Will We Have a Third Contender?
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Kieran—I think it will happen, it's just a matter of time. The Malaga investment was good for La Liga, it's just a shame that the money stopped coming in.
With the exception of Rayo Vallecano, Real Madrid has not been performing well this season and have been very inconsistent.
Real Madrid also have to deal with internal issues like the Ronaldo and Sergio Ramos sagas which hurts them. This could give clubs such as Atletico Madrid chances to contend.
4. How Can the League Fix the Current Economic Crisis?
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Roberto—La Liga has to start with more equal distribution of money from TV rights. No third club will have much financial stability without this, not while still competing anyway.
The league should also encourage clubs to find other ways in matches to generate revenue. One example is selling players and using the money to rebuild the club's infrastructure and academy, much like AC Milan did when it sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic to PSG.
Xoel—Perhaps the FREF could come up with a plan to financially balance La Liga, but it’s close to being as complicated as the European financial crisis. A restructured TV deal is possible to aid the teams with smaller budgets.
But let’s be real: there is some form of corruption in all world football leagues. There are certain people involved in Spanish football who will benefit from the Liga system staying like it is.
Parity may be great for a league like the NFL, but not for La Liga or any world football league. Money is lacking in La Liga and those who currently have it will do anything and everything to keep their share of it.
Matthew—First, La Liga needs a new TV revenue distribution system. Right now Barcelona and Real Madrid eat up about 30% of the revenue alone. That’s almost 1/3 of the money for just two clubs!
Once that happens, the clubs need to work on debt reduction and better management. It’s no secret that Malaga was poorly managed, despite receiving an influx of cash.
Clubs like Athletico Madrid and Valencia will need to work at reducing their debt before they can seriously contend.
After that, the clubs should follow the Bundesliga model, where fiscal responsibility is one of the most important things for a club to maintain.
5. Is La Liga Beyond Saving?
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Kieran—No, it's not. La Liga is in a bad place right now, but so is Spain as a nation. I don't buy into a lot of the La Liga pessimism because despite all its disadvantages it manages to produce incredible, entertaining football week in, week out.
How can it even compete with the Premier League if you cannot even watch it?
Thomas—La Liga is not beyond saving, but the problem is that it’s difficult to imagine it in any other form than it is now.
Michael—The league is not beyond saving, but it is certainly on the edge. Recent trends show a league in decline and that is undeniable.
The new Financial Fairplay Regulations, while still lacking, will also encourage economic sustainability, even at the expense of success on the pitch.
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Now what we would all love is to hear from you readers and fans of La Liga.
Please feel free to respond to these questions yourself and express any disagreements with any statements made from the writers.
Among just us few, views vary about how bad the situation in Spain is, so chances are all of you have unique and different opinions as well.
Thank you all for taking the time to read and join in on our discussion.
We hope you'll all become active participants in these roundtable sessions and welcome all views and opinions.