Are La Liga Chiefs Shooting Themselves in the Foot?5 min read
Try as it might, La Liga as an organisation can’t stay out of the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Whether it’s chief, Javier Tebas, professing his love for Real Madrid to games being played in Seville in 40-degree heat, there always seems to be ‘something’ to give the governing body an unnecessarily bad name.
One of the main bones of contention concerns the fans who, unlike in the Premier League, aren’t told about kick-off times until 2-3 weeks before the game, and even then it can be moved at short notice. A nightmare if you happen to need to book flights etc.
This time, however, Tebas et al seem to have surpassed themselves.
On the face of it, the odd La Liga game being played in the United States doesn’t seem to be that much of an off the wall idea. It’s understandable that to ensure the brand is front and centre in new territories, that the product needs to go there rather than have people go to it.
However, when that decision is made unilaterally, then it’s obvious problems will follow.
On Friday, August 17, La Liga announced that they had agreed a 15-year deal with media company, Relevent, for Spanish top flight matches to be played in the United States.
‘News to us’ said the players, and promptly organised a captain’s meeting, attended by a representative from every La Liga team, at the offices of AFE, the player’s union, in Madrid.
Clearly unhappy and with another meeting scheduled in September, the threat of strike action remains, even though this would be a last resort.
AFE president, David Aganzo, spoke on behalf of everyone when he said; “The problem is the lack of common sense, a schedule where only the export of football benefits – nobody counts on the fans.”
It’s alleged that the Catalan derby between Girona and Barcelona has been chosen as the inaugural match to be played in the US, but this presents issues for both sides.
Coming, as it will, between two legs of a Copa del Rey quarter-final, the last thing the holders Barca will want are x2 transatlantic flights. Girona will also lose what would be expected to be their biggest home crowd of the season at the Estadio Montilivi.
Moreover, with the game switching to a neutral venue where most will be rooting for Barca, it means any home advantage is also lost. In reality this is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what needs to be discussed and ironed out.
Pitch issues on Valladolid v Barcelona
An awful field!
It’s absolutely unbelievable to see something like that in La Liga!
Valladolid vs Barcelona; La Liga, Second Week. pic.twitter.com/w5xx11AiwM
— Mahdi Ghaffaribarzi (@MGhaffaribarzi) August 27, 2018
Gerard Pique even alluded to the decision in the wake of Barca’s farcical win at Valladolid over the weekend.
“The pitch was a disgrace. Those who want to sell the product to take matches to the United States should really look at what’s going on at home.”
La Liga have already started disciplinary proceedings against Valladolid over the state of their pitch, laid just four days before the match itself.
It cut up so badly that players were having to use two hands to replace huge divots that had popped up all over the pitch, and even their president admitted a fine would be justified.
Valladolid can repair their pitch without too much trouble, but can La Liga repair their damaged relationships with member clubs just as easily?