La Liga has a problem when it comes to making its football available to supporters in Spain.
Even with the loss of Lionel Messi, La Liga continues to be one of the most watched and most exciting leagues on the planet.
The presence of the likes of Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona continues to draw supporters from around the world, while the the product displayed by clubs from Rayo Vallecano to Villarreal and Celta Vigo to Sevilla week-in, week-out, makes the Spanish Primera a division worth tuning into.
And if you are a fan of La Liga from other parts of the world, you are offered cheap and easy access to see the football you love.
In the UK, you can pay just £6.99 for La Liga TV with the likes of Premier Sports or Amazon Prime and see the vast majority of games, plus a wide variety of La Liga content throughout the week.
In the US, thanks to a new ESPN deal, fans can pay just $6.99 for ESPN+ to watch games, and commentary is available in both English and Spanish.
Both countries allow fans to easily stream online, and if they want to cancel after a month, they are free to do so.
Brilliant! Where can I sign up? Oh wait, I live in Spain.
As is too often the case in football, fans who live in the country where the football is actually being played are forced to jump through more hoops than anyone else to watch their team.
And that is very much the case in Spain. In fact, La Liga fans get one of the worst deals of all.
Unlike in other countries where football is usually offered as an add-on to a TV package or an online subscription, Spanish fans are forced to buy lengthy mobile phone and/or WIFI packages to watch their team.
Movistar, owned by Telefonica, are the main broadcaster of La Liga in Spain, and their cheapest package to watch La Liga is currently €105 per month.
That will also get you a phone and WIFI contract, and there is no option to purchase the football without those other elements.
Orange TV also offer a similar package, but at a slightly reduced price of €95 per month.
By comparison, the cheapest Sky and Sky Sports package available to fans in the UK is currently £41 (€48.60), and that package offers 128 live Premier League games per season, as well as other sports.
In the past, La Liga have struck agreements with TV companies to show football for a cheaper price than those packages offered by the mobile companies, but no such agreements have been struck for this season.
And ticket prices have not helped supporters, either.
Spanish home fans without season tickets will pay an average of €39.57 for a ticket in the next two matchdays, based on the prices of the 14 clubs with tickets available across the next two games.
That’s more than the average set by Premier League (€37.93) and Serie A (€33) clubs compared to the last figures available, which are from the 2019/20 season, and those prices don’t include Real Madrid or Sevilla, who don’t have tickets available.
Real Betis are charging a whopping £65 for their cheapest ticket against newly promoted Rayo Vallecano this weekend, while bottom club Getafe’s cheapest adult ticket comes in at €40.
Espanyol are charging €50 per ticket, while home tickets for Athletic Club, Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Cadiz all come in above the €40 mark.
There are some sensible prices, too, it has to be said, and hats off to Atletico Madrid, Osasuna, Rayo Vallecano, Valencia and Mallorca for offering tickets at €30 or lower.
A special mention to Elche, too, who have tickets available as cheap as €15.
But for too many fans of La Liga in Spain, football is too expensive to attend in person and nigh-on impossible to watch on TV.
Fans have heard so much about La Liga’s war on piracy amid illegal broadcasts, but supporters are forced to use illegal streams and VPNs to see the teams they love.
Sure, leagues want more fans inside stadiums than watching football on TV, and that argument might wash in the UK where the furthest away day is somewhere around seven hours in the car.
But that simply does not work in Spain, a country too big to expect large turnouts for away games, or even to expect home fans living outside of their regions to make potentially mammoth journeys week-in, week-out.
In a post-pandemic world, and indeed a post-Messi La Liga, the league needs to be more accessible than ever to grow its product inside Spain, and if you need more proof, just head to Camp Nou. It was less than half full for Barcelona’s win over Valencia last weekend.
Instead, La Liga is being closed off to the fans who follow it with the most passion, the fans who witness it first-hand and talk about it over a coffee and a bocadillo the next day, the fans who, quite simply, make it what it is.
The now famed La Liga advert hits it on the head.
“Fans go crazy for football,” says the young boy of La Liga supporters in the advert. “They don’t just watch the game, they feel it.”
The simple message to La Liga? ‘Then let them watch it…let them feel it’.