By Tony Attwood
Javier Tebas the president of La Liga is back in the news.
He is reportedly threatening to suspend Spain’s first and second divisions if the Spanish government does not take steps to ban the Super League.
Tebas has put himself forward as one of the main opponents of the potential future European “Super League”. And this is while the final appeal by the proponents of Super League is being heard in the European courts, thus making the action that Tebas proposes as one that will put Spanish football above and beyond the law.
The aim of the action is to jeopardize the agreement signed between La Liga and the CVC fund regarding TV rights. The aim of this agreement is to promote the global growth of LaLiga so that it would become a direct rival of the Premier League in international terms.
The agreement between LaLiga and CVC Fund would see the league and clubs receive a total of €1.994 billion which will be used for “technology, innovation, internationalisation, and sporting growth initiatives,” and it is being suggested that if LaLiga can pull this deal off then LaLiga will overtake the Premier League as the most watched league in the world – in part through a particular focus on younger and international audiences.
LaLiga President Javier Tebas said: “This agreement is a historic milestone not just for LaLiga but also for football and sport in general. LaLiga and its clubs now have the best partner possible to successfully pre-empt and navigate changes on the horizon and I believe that we are setting a precedent for other leagues in Europe and around the world to follow.”
The injection of nearly €2 billion commits participating clubs to allocate up to 70% of the funds to investments linked to infrastructure, international development, brand and product development, talent acquisition, communication strategy, innovation and technology, and a content development plan for digital platforms and social media. Up to 15% can be used to sign players, with the remaining 15% for reducing debt.
However, the Super League is by no means over, and Bernd Reichart, former boss of the German media group RTL Group in Germany, has now been appointed as CEO of the company promoting the competition which still has Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus as members.
However, clubs in Europe are becoming increasingly aware that at the heart of the opposition to Super League is PSG, a club excluded from the league because of its intimate connections with the broadcaster beIN Sports.
The problem is that Nasser Al-Khelaifi at PSG carries immense clout due to his multiple high-profile roles — as PSG president; European Club Association chairman; chairman of Qatari broadcaster beIN Media Group; and UEFA executive committee member. He is also a member of the organising committee of the World Cup about to be held in Qatar.
Now that is a lot of power to be held by one man, and he is clearly not above using it, as when he burst into the referee’s changing room after his side was knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid. The incident was reported in the referee’s report, as saying the head of PSG etc etc etc “behaved aggressively and tried to enter the referee’s dressing room. When the referee asked them to leave, the president hit a piece of the assistant’s equipment, breaking it.”
According to Marca, Al-Khelaifi’s behaviour was recorded by a Real Madrid employee, who has forwarded the footage to UEFA to study for a possible punishment of its own official.
What all this means is that the waters are getting very murky. Although most of the top clubs are now officially against Super League, they also do not want simply to be pulled along by the latest diktat of Nasser Al-Khelaifi whose activities in threatening the referee when PSG did not win a game don’t make him look like the most balanced man one might have as the head of virtually all of Europe’s sporting decisions
But Javier Tebas’ approach doesn’t look rational either. If the European court rules that Super League is legal then there is nothing more than can be done legally to stop it.
And there is another fact. When the Premier League was set up, it was set up as a breakaway from the Football League which the Football League strongly opposed. But legal feeling was that the Football League could not oppose the Premier League. So the PL clubs objecting to Super League on legal grounds looks particularly dodgy since they’ve already done this sort of deal on their own behalf.
If Super League is found to be legal next month in court, then the PL clubs have the choice of throwing themselves in with PSG and its all-powerful head of everything (but potentially unstable) Nasser Al-Khelaifi, which means allowing him to run the show, or they negotiate to re-enter Super League. They may not like the latter either, so the case is, which one is the least distasteful.
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