Malaga versus La Liga, on TV

Malaga FC Owner Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser Al-Thani has publicly expressed his frustration with the large disparity in television revenue sharing between La Liga clubs. The Qatari businessman questioned the distribution of television funds at length with a series of statements on his official twitter account.

Al-Thani’s ire revolves around the fact that Real Madrid and Barcelona are set to earn over €140m each in broadcasting revenue from this coming season, while third place Valencia will take in under half of that with €65m. The Malaga President’s very own club, who finished fourth last term, will ‘only’ receive €13m.

Spanish teams have the ability to negotiate their own television deal, unlike clubs in England and Italy. Where the latter have a collective agreement that shares revenue reasonably equally, Spain’s unique predicament often causes controversy, while Al-Thani shares the popular belief that it will ultimately lead to the demise of La Liga.

The lopsidedness of the deal is painfully apparent, but when Barcelona in second and Valencia in third are separated by 30 points, it is not completely unjust. But, even if this principle is followed through, whilst only two seasons ago Los Blanquiazules finished a single place above the relegation zone, their sudden surge into the Champions League places should merit a change.

Malaga’s case, broadcasting revenue is a colossal percentage of their overall turnover, sitting at around 60 per cent of all in-take over the past few years when not considering the transfer of players. Next season will bring an influx of cash from qualification for the Champions League. As mentioned before: their rise up the table will bring an extra bargaining chip when it comes to television income.

The timing and tone of Nasir Bin Abdullah & Sons investment group’s head honcho must be questioned, however. His outburst is quite clearly politically motivated to bring the issue back into the forefront of the publics’ mind, giving him an excuse to scarp his team’s current television deal.

Just as Al-Thani made the claims, media outlets began reporting that Malaga had plans to dissolve their contract with Mediapro, the company that owns the rights to their live televised matches. On Tuesday last, business development manager Vicente Casado apparently informed the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) of the club’s intentions.

The Costa del Sol outfit have stated that after finishing fourth last season, their contract with Mediapro is ‘damaging’ and ‘obsolete’. They rightly feel the €13m per season they currently receive is inadequate – it is the lowest in La Primera alongside Rayo Vallecano, Granada, Racing Santander and Real Sociedad. The present agreement ends in 2014, when the figure will rise to around €22m.

However, that will still remain a drop in the ocean when compared to that of both Real Madrid and Barcelona, meaning Malaga should be allowed to discuss alternative deals, to which there has already been much hearsay.

Al-Thani has close connections with broadcaster Al Jazeera, and has reportedly reached an agreement to televise Los Blanquiazules’s matches. The Qatari Media Corporation has begun expanding into European football through their subsidiary channel beIN, which has strengthened substantially in North America. A proposed deal would be ‘several times’ that of their current Mediapro contract according to sources close to the club.

While Malaga will now reap the rewards of having quickly transitioned into one of La Liga’s giants, the same cannot be said for their old rivals further down the classification. Al-Thani may have got what he wanted, but that does not change the fact that the current television deal will still lead to the demise of Spanish football.


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