The political uncertainty created by Catalonia’s proposed split from Spain has delayed negotiations to renew La Liga’s international TV rights deals, according to Javier Tebas, president of the organising body for Spanish soccer’s top flight.
The 55-year-old has publicly declared his opposition to the region’s drive for independence which, if successful, could result in 24-time domestic champions Barcelona being expelled from the top tier, along with Espanyol and Girona.
Speaking to reporters at the World Football Summit in Madrid on Tuesday, Tebas said he has “suspended the commercialisation of the international rights until the situation in Catalonia is resolved,” following the fallout from an independence referendum on 1st October that was deemed illegal by the Spanish government and was overshadowed by violence between police and voters.
“When you are selling something you need to know it's the right moment and we decided now is not the moment to sell our television rights,” Tebas added. “We are not just selling them in Spain and Europe; we have to think about India, Singapore, Turkey and other countries, so we've delayed it by a few weeks. It might be better in the long run as now is not a good time.”
Since being appointed La Liga president in 2013, Tebas has considerably increased the league’s revenue from the sale of TV rights, agreeing a record domestic deal in December 2015 worth €2.65 billion (US$3.1 billion) over three years. The Spaniard admitted, however, that Barcelona’s potential exclusion from La Liga would have a significant impact on the league’s finances and its ability to compete with other European powerhouses like the Premier League.
“La Liga would lose around 20 per cent of its income if Real Madrid or Barcelona left,” he said. “We're talking about a problem that could have a huge impact on our competition, even though I don't think it [Catalonia splitting from Spain] will occur.”