Weekend of April 3 may see a suspension of all matches in The Spanish Professional Football League (LFP). The cornerstone of dispute between the LFP on one side and Spanish government and its Sports Council on the other, is the broadcast rights of live matches and as always is the case, the division of gambling revenues from football games.
The disagreement is in direct connection to a 1997 “Law of Football”, which demands one of the league’s matches per week to be shown on terrestrial TV, due to the fact that football is “of general interest” to the Spanish public.
LFP’s position is that football clubs lose over €200 million annually due to the fact that one game per week is not broadcasted on satellite channels or pay-per-view channels as is the case in England, Italy, Germany and other European countries. The divisions of revenues from land-based bookmakers and from online sportsbooks is also a point of contention.
Both types of sports betting are fully legal under the current Spanish gambling laws and are quite popular with Spaniards who love football only a bit more than betting on the sport. José Luis Astiazarán, the president of the LFP said “The Government and Sports Council know perfectly well what our demands are but there has been no significant progress.”
He also suggested that apart from planned strike, the league is examining all available options including delaying the beginning of the 2011/12 season.
An emergency meeting of the LFP is set for next week, to discuss the best strategy the League should employ to win concessions from the government without alienating football fans. Yet Astiazarán assured reporters that drastic measure such as a strike will only be employed as a last resort.
The ongoing dispute will not affect the Champions League or the Copa del Rey, as the League’s objective primarily involved the weekly ‘free’ game and an equitable distribution of revenues from online sportsbooks in Spain as well as from traditional Spanish bookmakers.