Tebas: Monday and Friday games will increase LaLiga rights value
By Tariq Saleh
Javier Tebas, president of Spanish soccer’s LaLiga, believes regular matches played on Mondays and Fridays would ensure additional value for the league’s broadcast rights and has vowed to continue with a lawsuit against the RFEF, the national federation, if the issue is not resolved.
That dispute between the two parties is continuing after a court in Madrid last month came out in favour of the league, albeit the value of the ruling was questioned by the RFEF.
The provincial court suspended the order of the Madrid commercial court number two in August 2019 that prevented games from being played on Mondays.
However, the RFEF responded by asserting that the precautionary measures requested by LaLiga in its appeal to the provincial court over matches on the two days “should no longer have an effect” as the matter “has already been resolved by the courts” and is “judged and sentenced.”
Tebas said today the league is sticking to its guns and is prepared to press ahead with legal action to get its way.
In an online interview at the WFS Live event, he said: “I hope the issue is resolved, and if not, we will continue with the lawsuit. We believe that we are right. There is an order of the provincial court that makes it quite clear and quite well explained. It is true that it is of precautionary measures."
The 2019-20 LaLiga season resumed last month, following a three-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic, and, in light of the special circumstances, fixtures are being played on all days of the week for the remainder of the campaign, albeit behind closed doors.
The RFEF said that it was showing “goodwill” in agreeing to matches being played on both Mondays and Fridays at present.
Under a temporary measure for this season, prior to the break, there had been fixtures on Fridays but not on Mondays.
Tebas believes that providing regular fixtures on both those days on a permanent basis is an additional tool for the league to extract higher rights fees from broadcasters.
He said: “Our obligation is to manage it [the schedule] as well as possible and on Mondays and Fridays it is such an important asset that we do not think about it alone, the broadcasters also think about it, which gives more value to audiovisual rights.
“Furthermore, if audiovisual rights are more valuable, the more money the federation will receive, the more money the CSD (Spain's higher sports council) will receive for non-sports federations.”
Tebas insisted he is hopeful of improved relations with the RFEF and its president Luis Rubiales, with whom there have been disputes over various issues in the last two years.
The public war of words has diminished of late and this has been welcomed by the LaLiga president, even though issues remain to be resolved.
Tebas said: “More than a new relationship [with the RFEF] I would like to say that it is different. The fact that we publicly stop being a media debate helps the industry and everyone a lot. That has been good.
“There are still problems with competencies and there will be. With the current leadership of the federation, we have a problem of how we culturally understand soccer, professional sports, and having matches on Mondays and Fridays is proof of this.
“The clubs consider that there are a series of assets that must be managed by the clubs through LaLiga and the federation considers that this is not the case, that this is all handled by the federation, and that cultural problem is not solved.”
One major issue between Tebas and Rubiales remains LaLiga's plans to stage regular season games in USA, which the federation has resisted on several occasions.
The RFEF's refusal to approve LaLiga playing matches, outside Spain, in Miami, Florida, has heightened tensions between the two presidents, particularly as the federation controversially staged its revamped Supercopa in Saudi Arabia this January.
In March, LaLiga said it would appeal against a ruling by the Madrid commercial court dismissing its lawsuit against the RFEF for declining to authorise a fixture between Girona and Barcelona, which was scheduled to be played in Miami in January 2019.
The RFEF, backed by a previous ruling from the Madrid court, also blocked the league’s attempts to stage a fixture between Villarreal and Atletico Madrid in the US city last December.
However, due to the pandemic, Tebas has been focused on finishing the remainder of the LaLiga campaign and has now admitted that the overseas game is not a big priority at present.
He said: “The current leaders of the federation do not authorise going to play in Miami because of an issue that they consider to be theirs and that is it, there is nothing more.
“Because right now we have seen with Covid that integrity in competition is sometimes there and sometimes not. I already said it was a game and that is all... I also want to say, however, that it is not even among my top 10 priorities to play a game outside of Spain.”
In its most recent ruling, the Spanish court cleared the RFEF of any wrongdoing as it outlined that LaLiga ultimately requires approval from the federation to take a game to USA, which it failed to receive.
Asked if an improved relationship with the RFEF will make it easier to play a game in Miami, Tebas said: “I think not.”
Meanwhile, LaLiga has today won a case to block pirate broadcaster Rojadirecta operating in Denmark.
In collaboration with the Danish Rights Alliance, the body which combats internet crime, the high court of Denmark ratified that Rojadirecta is illegal and must be blocked by Danish internet service providers.
The Spanish company that administers Rojadirecta, Puerto 80 Projects SLU, appealed against the district court’s ruling claiming that the site is not illegal, as legal content is also available.
However, the high court agreed with the Danish Rights Alliance and LaLiga that “a service dedicated to illegal activities is illegal – regardless of the presence of legal content.”
LaLiga took the case to court in 2018 as Rojadirecta was averaging 19,000 Danish visitors per month, and enabling users to stream live sports matches, including from LaLiga.