Barcelona and Real Madrid Advantage Could Be Cut by La Liga TV Rights Reshuffle

Rik SharmaFeatured ColumnistAugust 5, 2014

Barca and Real are the giants of Spanish football.
Barca and Real are the giants of Spanish football.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

The thorny issue of La Liga television rights is one that is often brought up when discussing Spain's top flight, and the domination of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

However, with Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu backing a change to the current individual distribution rights, we could see things even out sooner rather than later.

Bartomeu told The Times, h/t The Daily Mail, that his side are trying to get the television rights sold as a competition, instead of individually.

Barcelona and Madrid sell individually and we negotiate with a lot of success. That helps us to have as many of the best players in the world as possible. But we know the problem: the Premier League is very competitive. 

You never know who will win. In Spain, between 2004 and 2014 it has been just Barcelona and Madrid, mainly Barcelona. We are leading the attempt to find a consensus. It has been our objective for a long time to convince all the clubs in La Liga to sell the rights as a competition. Not all of them have been helpful. We will make the same, but the (revenue) increase will go to the other clubs.

The past decade has been dominated by Barcelona and Real Madrid, even if it has been bookended by wins for Valencia (2004) and Atletico Madrid (2014).

Valencia have fallen from a great height and quickly, while last season's Atletico side has been set upon.
Chelsea have swooped for Filipe Luis and Diego Costa, as well as recalling Thibaut Courtois.

Josep Maria Bartomeu with Luis Enrique.
Josep Maria Bartomeu with Luis Enrique.Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Atletico have bought well with the the money they earned, adding Antoine Griezmann, Mario Mandzukic, Jan Oblak and more, but they should have been looking to move their side to the next level, not tread water.

When Mesut Ozil left Real Madrid for England, he said the Premier League was a much more even playground.

He told The Sun, h/t Inside Spanish Football:

In the Premier League the level between the teams is much more balanced, than in Spain for example. The strongest teams in the world are in England and you can sense that as a player. You know you’re never going to have an easy game, any team can make you work hard and fight. Every three or four days there’s a huge game. That doesn’t happen in any other country. That’s why everyone admires English football.

Of course, even if TV money was split across the league, like in England, it wouldn't prevent Barcelona and Madrid from dominating. They would still have the best squads and make the most money from other sources, like merchandising.

However, the league would be a lot more entertaining.

The likes of Valencia could keep players like Juan Mata, David Silva, David Villa for longer, without them searching for success and fortunes elsewhere. There would be less of a gap between the top sides and the rest of the field. 

Chelsea pried Juan Mata away with ease.
Chelsea pried Juan Mata away with ease.Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

You could watch teams travel to the Santiago Bernabeu and the Nou Camp with at least a sliver of hope, instead of expecting a beating and simply opting for damage limitation. 

That's not to say it's not exciting at the moment—last season was the best in Spanish football's recent history.

However, if La Liga want to attract all of the best players in the world, as Javier Tebas claims they do, then a fairer deal would facilitate that.

After Luis Suarez moved to Barcelona from Liverpool, the head of La Liga, Javier Tebas, joked: "We are not going to stop. We want the 500 best players."

Per the BBC, in 2012-13 Real Madrid and Barca each took home over £110 million, while Atletico Madrid and Valencia were next highest, on £33 million. Six clubs picked up as little as £9.5 million.

However, that could all be changing.