Are Spanish clubs fighting back at last against Barca and Real Mad?

By Walter Broeckx and Tony Attwood

Following Tony’s articles  about the problems in the EPL for Everton and in the SPL for Rangers I think maybe we should also take a look at other clubs who we are competing with in Europe.

It has been said on this website Barcelona and Real Madrid are what Celtic and Rangers are for Scotland. The two giants who win and only leave some crumbs for the other teams every 10 years or so.

The reason is that both Real Madrid and Barcelona are, just like Rangers and Celtic with their own religious and historic positions, more than just clubs. Real Madrid and Barcelona are institutions that are seen as the King’s club and the Catalan club. People whisper that the Spanish government is supportive for Real Madrid and the Catalan government does the same for Barcelona.  Imagine the London council supporting one of the London clubs and doing nothing for the others… hard to imagine but that is how it seems to be in Spain.

But because of their “big” status and their support Barcelona and Real Madrid are almost seen as clubs that cannot go bust and so the banks loan them money. And more money and more money. Until it is getting a bit stupid from an economics point of view.

And then we have the TV deals. Barcelona and Real Madrid do their own TV deals and thus get a lot of money. And the other 18 clubs get what is spilt from the table and falls on the ground for those not so fortunate clubs. If the numbers in my newspaper are correct Barcelona and Real Madrid get four times the amount of money than the rest of the clubs all together.

And because of this money Barcelona and Real Madrid can pay higher wages than the rest, they can buy whoever they want to buy. And the other clubs, well they are just there to play for 3rd place and to get slaughtered every time they play Real Madrid or Barcelona.

Last week when it turned out that the radio rights also were very much beneficial for Real Madrid and Barcelona the president of Sevilla declared war against Real Madrid and Barcelona. Jose Maria del Nido invited all the other clubs in Spain in an attempt to stop the current situation.

He used some strong words to describe the situation. He said: “Our league is not just the biggest mess in Europe but in the whole world. “ He also said: “The two big ones are getting bigger and the little clubs are getting crushed and squeezed. This is becoming a third world competition, where the big two clubs take all and everything away from the others”.

Now it still is not clear how many clubs will come to the meeting,  but this is the first time that a club president has openly taken an initiative to stop the big two from taking all the money.

Now just imagine what would happen if this initiative from Mr. del Nido would result in a fairer way of dividing the TV money. It probably would have as a result that the little clubs get more money and that the big two will get less money. And when you think of the fact that even with all that money now going to the big two clubs they still are in a massive debt and only stay alive because nobody dares to bring them down by asking their money back.

So the big two clubs will have lots of money to loose. And it will not kill them probably but it will force them to stop the way they have acted in the last years by buying each and every player they want for no matter what price.

It also could bring a change in European football. Because if Barcelona and Real Madrid having less money it could be another step towards maybe a more even playing field in Europe.  But to get this done we still will have to deal with the rich owners and  their toys, (also known as  clubs).

But nevertheless it will be interesting to see if the little clubs in Spain dare to challenge the big two clubs. Oh, very much my kind of battle…the little ones taking on the big ones. I hope the little ones can win it.

And a final note about the president of Sevilla. One could say that he is just a bad loser but in fact he has been their president for nine years and he is the most successful president they have ever had. He has won two Spanish cups, one Spanish super cup, two Uefa Cups and one Uefa super cup in those  years. And he has brought the club back in a good financial state over the past years. But he has had enough of playing on an uneven field. Can you blame him?

Additionally there is action elsewhere in the Spanish league to mount a challenge to the big boys.  This summer Getafe became the third Spanish football club to get a load of foreign cash when it was bought by Dubai’s Royal Emirates Group.

Getafe play in Madrid, and have followed Malaga and Racing Santander, both of whom were taken over earlier.   The team has already had a name change and is now Getafe CF Team Dubai.  They have been in the first division in Spain for six years.

Malaga was bought by Sheikh Abdullah Al Thani of Qatar while Santander was bought by Western Gulf Advisory.

This is not to say that these foreign owned clubs are going to turn their position around in one or two seasons – not least because top players in their prime are unlikely to go to clubs with no history of winning, but over a period of a few years this could happen if the clubs do manage to climb the tables and show they are going somewhere.

And if there is a challenge from other teams it could be that a weakness will open up among the top two – especially with Barcelona which seems to be financially very vulnerable.   Barca are utterly dependent upon TV finances – if less money is available because these up and coming clubs are starting to become a little more attractive, that will cause a problem for them.

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35 Replies to “Are Spanish clubs fighting back at last against Barca and Real Mad?”

  1. I am that it took these many years for somebody in Spain to come out in the open against these 2 clubs, hope these small clubs succeed and break Barca’s back

  2. Great article guys. I think the comment from Senor del Nido about the league becoming “a 3rd world competition” put it in perfect context for someone like me living in Africa, with Angola right next-door, its easily relatable LOL! I’m just wondering though, if it isn’t a bit futile for teams like Malaga and Gatafe to get these “big money guys” buying them out now, since the the FIFA Fair Play rules are 1,5 seasons away from taking effect. This intern would mean that they wouldn’t be able to splash all that money anyway, unless ofcourse, if they get creative…

    My real question is in relation to the FIFA Fair Play idea. Do you guys think it will really manage to stop mega-teams like Barca and Real from having their way regardless? It looks to me like there are ways around it, and Man City showed us one of those ways with the Etihad stadium naming rights debacle. For exmple, what’s to stop the Spanish king from doing the same thing and paying Real Madrid 700m Euros for their stadium naming rights (because ofcourse their “brand” is worth every penny) so that The Bernabeu can now be called “The King’s Casa”? So in one “savvy” business deal Real Madrid can carry on spending rediculous amounts on new star players and their astromonical salaries, because they made “legitimate” profit. It just looks like there are some grey areas that the FAIR PLAY rules still have to split into black and white. And this obviously goes beyond just the Spanish league.

    I would appreciate your overall thoughts on whether you think that the FAIR PLAY rules will really make a difference, or if they are just a nice novel idea. I mean the idea of world-peace sounds great, but unfortunately war is very profitable, if you catch my drift. CASH RULES *therichgetricher*

  3. @Max…

    From my VERY LIMITED understanding of the new FFP rules…it goes something along these lines

    “Club can only spend what they make in profit/revenue/something or other”

    So if … Club A bags 80m a year in income potentially they can then spend that 80m on players etc….think Arsenal/Juventus/UTD/Barcelona etc.

    Now you have Club B which bags 5m a year in income…that means that they can spend only that 5m nothing more otherwise they are excluded from European Competition…think Fulham/Aston Villa/Valencia/Lazio etc.

    now this stinks of unfairness…the big teams can spend a lot because they earn a lot because in the last century they have made it to the “big club” status, while smaller clubs will forever be limited in some way and held back from Europe and the exposure it gives the club. Now this is a very cynical view…but fuck it…we live in a very cynical world.

    of course then you get a club like Man Shitty/Chavski which sells its naming rights for 400m or whatever amount was written in the papers…that just makes a mockery of any FFP rules and anyone who actually thinks they will be enforceable in any meaningful way.

    THEN you get clubs like Bayern Munich who are calling for other major clubs to leave FIFA/UEFA etc and set up their own mega league because at the end of the day…the top levels of any sport/society/country/governing body in this day and age is so corrupt it’s just funny.

  4. when people keep quite for so long u will be seen as a weakling. a league where the difference between second place and third place is 29 point as of last two season is not a league, it is a charade

  5. I have said this in the begining, the FFP is pointless. There are so many ways around it. What happened to the bankers who bought the world finance to a brink of colapse. They are still milking it inspite of the so-called strict rules.
    Also, does one seriously think that UEFA will want the bg clubs banned? That means apart from us and a very few others, Manure, Shitty, Atsea, Unreal etc baned? Don’t think so! This is just an eyewash so that Platini keeps the other clubs happy by showing that he wants to do something.

  6. wishere, Gouresh,
    Adding on and agreeing,
    It’s the UEFA/FIFA “MO” (that would be “modus operandi” for non-police procedural fans) 🙂
    FFP is eyewash instead of a genuine hard salary cap – like many professional sports leagues worldwide; just like their goal line refs, soon to be followed by goal line video is offered up in lieu of actual ref in the booth real-time video replay; just like a glowing documentary about a day in the life of Howard Webb is offered up in lieu of a neutral expert analysis of his most notorious decision; and just like Arsene gets his suspension upheld in lieu of a proper neutral investigation about any possible relationship (causal or correlational) between Busacca’s calls on the pitch vs. Arsenal at Camp Nous and his elevation to chief of referees at FIFA. Incredible is not anywhere the word for this. World Wide Wrestling starts to come a little bit closer to the reality.

  7. The other clubs in Spain should refuse to play against the Barca and Madrid in the farce that is the league games, leaving them to play against each other. We will then see what the value of their tv contracts will be!

  8. Walter and Tony,
    Whatever chances the rest of the clubs have against Barfa and Mad-riddance, the fact is that, as you note, Barca today is too big to fail. And that’s why Barfa’s pleading poverty last season, with the color copy ruse (that you bought into), and the only 45M to spend in the x-fer fraud (that many comments on UA still parrot) did not hold water then, or now, when it comes to WHY Cesc got away for half of the actual market value. By extension, you should look into that business deal. What went wrong or right there? It’s not being touched with an article, as yet, on UA. I can only agree with Walter’s comments to date that x-Cesc’s leaving the way it went down really sucks (for less than a technical explanation). And going into it is both an honest and a logical extension of what you so well document here about Barfa’s prowess to date.

  9. Byo,
    that would be the simplest and easiest way of doing so. If the other teams would say: “hey our bus broke down when riding to the stadium we didn’t make it in time” the Spanish Fa cannot do anything about it. Those things happen you know.

    And then the TV could only show images of Nou Camp or Bernabeu filled with thousands of people who just sit there waiting for nothing.

    I really don’t think the TV companies will be rolling on the euro’s to Barcelona and Real Madrid and offer peanuts to the rest.

  10. Just for your information:
    Real and Barcelona get around 140-145M euro each year.
    Most of the other clubs get around…..10-12M each year.

    A few teams who get a bit more but all the rest get much less than the last team in the EPL where the money is split up more even between the teams.

    So refusing to play in Barcelona and in Madrid should cause Barcelona and Madrid a lot of trouble.

  11. Tony, Walter,
    If Spain’s noveau-sheik clubs start to demand the TV money that B/M now have monopolized and do start to break the B/M hold on the league, that will not democratize the sport, only the resulting table. There might be more to root for in all this than the revenge of the new billionaires versus the old monopolizers. I don’t really find it to be the dawn of a football fan’s spring.

  12. These new owners of lesser Spanish teams aren’t as cash rich as you might imagine. Not all Arabs are stuffed with dollars, they all want to act like they are! Remember Dubai’s Suleiman Al Fahim who took over Portsmouth?! He just acted like he had money, when in fact he was flooded with real estate debt.

  13. @Byo,

    I’m sure they’d get fined by the Spanish FA but realistically it is the best option to those teams. Then again such is the disparity that La Liga is already becoming unwatchable.

  14. Sammy the Snake,
    Are they rich enough to buy a team? How much is enough to matter? to be a player? to have a foothold and be able to be a player at the extra-gaming tables, so to speak? do you have balance-sheet-access?

  15. Nice article guys.
    But I cant see how the likes of Madrid or Barca will ever go under.
    I think its a bit like liverpool, only they are even way more an attractive an oppertunity to wealthy business men who will always be willing to take a chance.

    As for FIFA/UEFA we have had a life time of watching their corruption in soccer its hard to have any faith in either when it comes to the smallest elements of the game never mind fair play.

  16. Al Thani has money – Thani is the family name of the Qatari Royal Family – just about the only ones with more dosh than Abu Dhabi (Man City). don’t know about the other guy…

    Don’t go looking for balance sheets though it is impossible to see their real wealth or how much of the Qatari State’s money will be involved… What with the Barca sponsorship though they seem to have chosen to invest in La Liga rather than the EPL

  17. “Too big to fail” = ManUre, Barfa, Mad-riddance, Chelski, pick your favorites. But there are economic and political entwined reasons, including national prestige, being their league’s flagship club, the advertising that’s dependent on their chronic brand-name success, and on and on. That’s why there’s no video replay, no salary cap, Fergie time, promotions for Bussacca time, and so forth. It is foolish to deny the phenomenon of too big too fail. How then to defeat it on the pitch, if that’s what enough people want? That’s the question.

  18. We all know the lack of equality for television rights in Spain so I’m going to explain it how it is: Real Madrid and Barcelona receive 41% of total revenue of the television rights according to, the total spread is over two almost equal halfs of 270 million euros. The other teams in the La Liga get 370 million euros. However, the remaining quantities are not distributed more or less proportionally, Atletico Madrid and Valencia are at another level, though far from the big two, both teams receive more than 40 million euros this season for their rights, but less than 50. Then Sevilla and Villarreal two teams that have played European competitions in recent years are more than 10 million away from Atletico Madrid and Valencia, a distance that those responsible for the running of football clubs consider insoluble, and harms the championship. At the opposite of the pole where Racing Santander live, is a situation which they receive less money in royalties from television, just over 13 million. Rayo and Grenada, two newly promoted, also roam around these quantities. So compared to the Premiership a club like Valencia receive about the same money as the club that finishes 20th in the Premiership. Out of Getafe, Malaga and Racing Santander it seems at the moment that Malaga are the only team looking progress down the route Manchester City have took. However even if they do Real Madrid and Barcelona have won 65% of all the La Ligas played and probably wont change even with new rules to making it a more level playing ground. Real Madrid and Barcelona are global products making around 150 million euros every year through commercial revenue add on top their matchday revenue generating for Real Madrid around 130 million and Barcelona another 100 million there’s just to much money for a club like Sevilla to compete. Debt? Which Untold bangs on so much about, sorry but for these clubs it’s manageable just like Arsenal’s debt. Since Barcelona went through a minor period where it sold a player to players wages under the new guidance of Rosell, Barce slowly a reducing debt. Television rights will defiantly hurt the Spanish big two but may not be enough to change the dynamics of the other league between the two clubs.

  19. So it’s been a bad couple of weeks…I haven’t made any comment about our signings yet so I’ll just say that I am cautiosly optimistic. I think Per Mertesaker is a good signing but we should have got Cahill as well. If we get Cahill in January then OK but everyone will be in for him then, especially if he has a good game against Montenegro. I am happy with the fullback position. I think Gibbs and Jenkinson have the right quality as back up players. I think Gervinho will be great. I think Beneyoun and Arteta where knee jerk reactions and are a massive gamble so I’m not really factoring them( if they do well then its a bonus). South Korean fella looks really good. We got him cheap, he’ll play his heart out, and he actually looks really strong. For me, though, AOC looks a frightening prospect. He owned the U21 games and I think he is going to be far more succuesful than Wallcott in a shorter time frame. But, overshadowing all of this is the injuries to Verm and Jack. We have surely got to get this sorted. Plus, of course, this year we have the dreaded ACN and with Frimpong now playing for Ghana (a good move for him), we will lose both our DM’s for potentially 5 weeks. I hope we perform well this year. I hope that our signings perform. I hope that both Bendtner and Denilson have succesful loan spells (for their sakes). I hope that the lazy, dis-interested git that is Arshavin buggers off to Russia in January. but, ultimately, we won’t challenge. This year, I think its about the domestic cups.

  20. Bob,

    Is Chelsea to big to fail? There worldwide support isn’t anywhere near as big as Barce, Madrid, Man U, Liverpool, Bayern etc

    I actually think they would be one of the so called big clubs who would go under and it not being stopped.

  21. While reading these posts and the article, I suddenly realized that Arsenal’s way might be seen as a THREAT to the powers that be and especially the big sugardaddy or nationally supported Clubs like Barca,Real, Shitty, Cheatski etc.
    If Arsenal had won a few European Cups, won a few titles and some silverware, doing the frugal dance they are known for, what would it have said about the Buy ¨success¨ now,pay later crowd that FIFA and EUFa love so much? It makes me wonder about the seemingly unfair officiating we have been subjected to for the past few seasons, the harsh way Wenger is attacked daily in the media and press and the obvious prejudice he suffers at EUFA’s hands, to name a few things. Could this be an unspoken conspiracy to supress his sustainable model, which not only threatens the big spenders but also menaces the totally corrupted EUFA/FIFA cabal who depend on graft, cash-filled envelopes and possible connivance with organized crime? If this could be shown to have a basis in fact, what a revelation!

  22. I also believe that the FFP is a smoke and mirrors exercise in calculated deception which will be subverted by the aforementioned sugardaddy Clubs, with the wholehearted collaboration of EUFA/FIFA. It is clear that Platini is trying to make brownie points in preparation for his running for the FIFa presidency in 2015 and this is as risk-free a way as any to look ¨tough¨ and pro-¨reform¨ without actually upsetting the apple cart! If Shitty’s naming rights dog and pony show is accepted by the EFA evaluation committee then the gig is up and their true colours will shine through!

  23. jas777,
    After further consideration, I can’t say I know enough about Chelski to back their inclusion. It seems they’re on the cusp of too big to fail, but my thinking gets clouded by their massive fiscal backing. Still they don’t have the same stature and don’t tick off all the boxes (politically, face of the league, etc.) the way that the others do, so I’d pretty easily agree with you here. I’d welcome more analysis from you on this one than I’m capable of mustering now. Cheers.

  24. Domhuaille,
    Here, here!, on your 3:44 gem. Calculated deception, indeed. Same with their smoke and mirrors with adding first extra goal line officials (like the one who tried to screw us in the phantom penalty call at Udinese) and appearing to call for goal-line video technology in a year or two (whilst denying Arsene’s stated desire to install it at this season’s Emirates Cup) as an obstruction to genuine video replay (though I don’t think you’re for it, but c’est la vie).

  25. Domhuaille,
    I welcome you’re open-eyes realizations at 3:40. It’s exactly what some of us (yes, full disclosure, me too) have been writing for several months now. It’s good to have you aboard, as it’s the key point.

  26. pali,
    I second most of your thoughts and good wishes on our signings. My one quibble is that you write about Park “we got him cheap.” My issue here with you (but really with AFC) is that there’d be no need to have to qualify his purchase with “we got him cheap” if we had actually got the return on investment on the lamentable x-Cesc transaction. If you’re actually counting pennies before praising the Park signing (which I too have great hopes for), it then interests me enough to inquire why you are doing so?

  27. I think Domhuaille at 3.40 has it exactly right. Football seems like big business but the whole industry is simply not profitable. Why does anyone then, choose to spend a sizeable part of their fortune in buying a football club, and then running it in the money grows on trees manner that they do? Is being a football fan, or wanting an ego boost enough of a reason? I don’t think that explains it at all, and the unsustainable model seems to be something that has powerful backers for reasons other than football. And as Dom says, Arsenal’s success (when it happens) will put their spend spend spend ways in trouble. Thus the kind of obstacles being put in our way.

  28. oh and I also agree with jas777.. Chelsea are not a big club. Without Abramovich (or another investor) they go under, and no one really cares.

  29. not investor.. (since that word hints at a return for putting money into the club)..I meant benefactor

  30. Shard,
    Please expand on your nice distinction between investor and benefactor and the implications.

  31. Something just hit me.
    It may well happen that a super league is being/will be formed, each member club being owned by a super rich owners.
    They then will buy all the good players across the world.
    But who would feed into that league?
    Would there be any relegations, or would the member teams be permanent forever?

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