The 13 Primera Division clubs threatening strike action over the new kick-off times have backed down as the League assures that games will be played this weekend.
A group of rebel clubs – Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Madrid, Real Betis, Celta Vigo, Espanyol, Getafe, Granada, Mallorca, Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano, Real Sociedad, Sevilla and Real Zaragoza – had reportedly threatened industrial action to disrupt the start of the 2012-13 League campaign.
This was in protest at the kick-off times being introduced this season, which will see nine kick-off times played over the opening weekends of the campaign, as well as some only starting at 11pm local time, including on Sunday evenings. These teams were also continuing protests over what they view as unfair distribution of television money.
However, after talks with the Spanish Football League (LFP), Week 1 looks set to begin as scheduled.
“We have been talking for some time about some important issues,” LFP President Jose Luis Astiazaran [pictured] told reporters today.
“We have put all the issues on the table. We have discussed issues about the League itself, its governance and its broadcast on television. There will be games played this week, according to the schedule.
“The late kick-off times are set. We are unable to reconcile with such a burden. Particularly, we must emphasise that the first two Weeks are special hours that we had also agreed with the Spanish Footballers’ Association (AFE).
“Once these rounds are over we will return to regular hours. It was a solution that we had to put in place. There were various competitions intersecting, we had a slot with limited space available.
“Some of the times are more complicated, but little by little we will be returning to normal.”
Atletico Madrid in particular were aggravated by their late Sunday night kick-off which they felt will affect their preparations for the UEFA Super Cup the following midweek against Chelsea.
“Athletic Bilbao will also play that day and they play on Thursday in the Europa League. We have prioritised the League, we have to prioritise it.
“Levante is in the same situation, playing Monday and Thursday. We have explained the issues and what happens.”
Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo conceded that progress has been made in the talks with the LFP, but still warned that further talks are due before the season begins.
“We 13 teams are united and we must forward to achieve our goals and try to win the battle for the sake of our interests and those of the League.”
Meanwhile, Astiazaran admitted that an agreement between television broadcasters Mediapro and Sogecable was still ‘pending’. The latter have negotiated deals with a slight majority of La Liga’s clubs, including most of the rebel clubs listed above, whilst the former have pending lawsuits with those same clubs for breaking contracts originally signed with them.
Clubs are also asking that money owed to them by television operators is paid before the season begins and that all lawsuits pending against them are dropped.