Barca's Sandro Rosell Is Fearful of Potentially Growing Competition in La Liga

Khalid KhanCorrespondent INovember 10, 2011

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 24:  New signing Ibrahim Afellay (R) and FC Barcelona President Sandro Rosell shake hands during his presentation as new FC Barcelona player at Camp Nou on December 24, 2010 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
David Ramos/Getty Images

There is an increasing understanding, if not complete acknowledgment and real acceptance, amongst the Big Two of the numerous pressing problems being faced by Spanish Primera Division.

However this still fails to go much further than it is essentially required to remedy.

Last Tuesday Alexandre Rosell, president of FC Barcelona, spoke about some issues at International Football Arena conference in Zurich, Switzerland.

He talked about the need to negotiate TV rights collectively by saying "The television rights are negotiated individually now, but in three, four, five years time, we will have to put them all in one pot and make La Liga as it is in Italy and the Premier League."

"We and Real Madrid are talking to the rest of the clubs. We understand this is the future and it has to happen.

On the surface it innocuously seems that Barcelona is willing to go the way of Serie A and Premier League, but between the lines it is implicit that the Barca (and Real Madrid) are talking with the rest to impose their formula on distribution of TV money. This has been illustrated by events in recent months where we have seen failed efforts of many clubs for an equitable and just distribution of TV money.

Both Barcelona and Real Madrid can hijack talks on this key issue for now, but their self-centered approach cannot go on forever and sooner rather than much later, it will come back to haunt them. Either La Liga will lose TV audience massively or Big Two will have to negotiate/accept a fairer, if not completely equitable, distribution.

Another allusion to this is manifested in Rosell's statement when he opines, “"My opinion is that our league has too many clubs…… I believe we must reduce the number of clubs in La Liga, from 20 clubs to 16."

Perhaps one angle he has in mind is that with fewer clubs, some good-quality players and canteranos (let us assume 100 first-team players by reducing four clubs) will be shared more than would be the case with 20 clubs.

Nevertheless, this makes it clear that the Big Two are not willing to share the TV wealth equally and would like fewer mouths to be fed by that revenue stream so their share is not drastically affected and that part of the competition is relegated to Segunda B.

When he declares that "None of the clubs in Spain are in a good position; we owe a lot of money to the banks,” he so conveniently manages to forget that (apart from bad management) part of the problem is unjust distribution of TV revenue which forces clubs to borrow money to keep abreast of the Big Two or for others to at least stay in La Liga.

In the same speech, Sandro Rosell voices his dislike (read, inner fear) of the competition that foreign investment will bring to La Liga when he states that “They are coming to Spain and I don't like it but it’s happening. It's the open market. In the Premier League there are no more clubs to be sold so now they are coming to Spain.”

"They have (bought) Malaga and Santander and some other clubs; my question is where we go and if this fair on the associations when these clubs can increase capital with no limits."

Foreign investors will throw their own money to raise the level and standing of the club like Malaga has sought to do since last year after purchase by the Qatari owner.

Malaga has not quite completely gone the way of Chelsea and Manchester City of buying success through huge financial injections, but that prospect along with Malaga’s continued improvement through discrete investment, still causes worries in the ranks of Big Two and the likes of Champions League hopefuls Valencia, Atletico Madrid and Sevilla.

There is nothing against the fact that the Big Two would like to maintain and preserve the status quo, i.e. their hegemony in La Liga, fueled by their desire to protect and keep place in European competitions. To this end they see any foreign investment, and hence more competition, as detrimental to their (selfish) interests and domination of the league title year after year.

When Rosell says that “Something is wrong with the equation," it ought to mean that the part of this “wrong” mostly lies on the side of the Big Two.