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La Liga : What Happened?

 

Hello everyone  and welcome to my first post on the main site for a while, as I start my second week on holiday from work I have had time to think mostly about the situation back home in Spain.

Financially the country is in bits, with a very high unemployment level of over 6 million people, and young people having little or no future it almost pains me to watch Real Madrid’s pursuit of Gareth Bale. Tempting him over with a world record transfer fee and alleged wages of over £300k per week I ask myself what have we done so wrong in our country and is football aware of the countries struggles, it would seem not.

I ask the question, what has La Liga done so badly?

I was born in Barcelona on the 10th of June 1986, I lived for most of my life until the age of around 14 with my six other brothers and my parents who would often struggle to support our family. We were not poor in the real sense but we had very little money until my father was given the opportunity eventually to work in England.

From as far as I can remember football was our life, my father played for local teams as a goalkeeper mostly as is he quite large! I think the running was not to his style but he loved the game as most people do. Later he became a teacher and coach of our local team where my brothers played all with the same dream to make it as a professional. The Camp Nou stood like a beacon of what might be, the dream to play for one of the most famous clubs in history and the day my father got two tickets to see them.

He just couldn’t select between all my brothers so I was the easy choice! Anyone who has brothers or sisters that outnumber them will probably feel left out like I did, like I was born the wrong gender for my family so it was me and my Mother for the most part until then. The game was a La Liga match against Athletic Bilbao I remember the people, lots of people! I grasped my fathers hand very tight and he put his arm around me and bought me a scarf which I still have to this day!

It might sound stupid a simple scarf but like I said we really had no money so for my father to spend what was so much to us on me, made the day feel even more special the game was brilliant the final score was 4:2 to Barcelona, my favourite player at the time Luis Enrique scored the opening goal in a team that included Guardiola, Kluivert and Rivaldo I even think Xavi came on as a sub but my memory isn’t the best! :)

After I was just so excited, I just kept talking to my Mother about how amazing it was (and to also annoy some of my brothers!) and from then on I became a proper fan, even though I wouldnt see them play live for another ten or so years.

Rivaldo + Guardiola

So I know what your thinking, nice story Ana but what does it mean!? I guess nothing am sure most have had a very similar experience but for me that moment was the moment I became a fan and a loyal La Liga supporter, and like with most things I will often defend my love and passion despite the cracks and problems.

Some have even felt my passion on these subjects which can seem aggressive but is never my aim, is just my poor choice of English and maybe the idea that I am wrong and La Liga isnt as great as I think it is. When the season started I was excited as always, my boyfriend who also enjoys it simply made a statement without trying to wind me up which made me think and even have the idea to wrote this post. I cant remember his exact words but it was all about Real Madrid and Barca the only teams in La Liga.

Is not right but the idea is the same, to steal and English phrase ‘is a two horse race’ and it has been for years. I could argue that say Germany is two horse race but before I blindly defend I first must look at Spain and relise I am wrong. Money is the problem I guess in history it always has been those that have it and those that dont.

Looking through La Liga this season and is almost bare, any established our young talent not from the ‘big two’ is gone from top to bottom La Liga has lost players.

Transfers out in spain Top Spanish Players Moving To England

Once upon a time La Liga was very secure financially and would often compete with the world for top transfer targets, competition was also very strong as in 1999-2000 a team from Galicia claimed the league title, and would finish runner up for the next few years in Deportivo la Coruna then two seasons later it was Valencia turn to win the title after Real Madrid mashed between them, 2005-06 would be the final time a team outside the big two would compete for the title.

It felt open and exciting, watching Real Sociedad as they heart brokenly fell just short of winning La Liga, with the likes of Valencia, Depor even Mallorca at the times alongside Villarreal and even Sevilla alongside Barca and Real made for an exciting open competition. So what happened? If I knew I would tell you but looking around the league now and any top talent has gone it seems, like a wasteland.

Its easy for me to blame the Premiership, the reckless spending and inflated transfers and wages is an easy target which has destroyed the market. The fact a team that is just promoted can easily out-spend any team outside the top two in Spain even finishing third,  annoys me but is not all the fault. Money is and will always be the deciding factor which brings me on to the new ‘fair play’ rules.

In theory is an excellent idea, I mean you only spend what you can earn and if you dont comply you are banned from Europe the opportunity for smaller clubs to succeed, or is it?

Lets take Atletico as an example, in recent season are one of the most exciting teams in world football with the star name Radamel Falcao, bought to replace the departed Sergio Aguero. The recent success are there to see, Europa league winners twice in three years, a few good finishes in La Liga, winning the Copa del Rey last season and of course the Super cup winners with that incredible performance against Chelsea but all for what?

Super cup falcao

Well for nothing, Atletico are in debt with there only salvation is doing well in Europe as they cant rely on a rich owner to protect them. Fair play was brought in and clubs had to fall into line which most did but Spain didnt plan on an economical crash, the whole country affected not just football. As always everything is increased so those in debt became in even greater debt like Atletico who had all there Europa league money frozen for failing to fall into the fair play rules.

With the new rules with the supposed idea to protect the smaller clubs, they had to sell their superstar Falcao for a massive fee over over £40 million pounds but to which giant of football did he decide to leave for, thats right Monaco…..

Now not to be unfair on Monaco at all, but last season they were in the first division in France with an attendance of around 12,000 and over recent season have fallen on hard times with the obvious relegation. So I ask how can a team like that afford to spend so much money with fair play on the way I mean they wouldn’t have a super rich owner would they?

Which is my point, Monaco dont need European money as there owners will probably make ten times more than all the prize money available in a few months hence why they are so rich they make lots of money, a team like Atletico cant and wont survive without European money so freezing it whilst they struggle in debt is the supposed savior of the financial fair play system and the way to help the smaller teams by letting them slowly die, blocking their only way to try and save themselves.

All teams in La Liga are in the same position, we cant compete financially as our country has not got any money or at least not enough and teams now will almost have to sell, any half decent player now is a target provided they dont play for the big two. For me is not right and not fair our league is in huge danger of falling apart and the governing body which should help and protect is instead punishing teams for mistakes made before the fair play ideas and not showing common sense in the financial decline in Spain.

Then I watch PSG, Monaco, Manchester City spend without regard, millions of pounds and yet nothing is said or done. How did Monaco turn over the amount of money to provide the funds to seal the signings of Falcao, Moutinho and James Rodriguez? They only sold around £4 million pounds worth of players so not there, they are newly promoted so not in prize money and the TV rights will be bigger than most super clubs so not that either yet nothing seems to be said or done, is not fair.

I know, is not my usual happy self! Is more annoyance of what I see from that first moment I saw Barca play it was like a dream, I found my love of football something I thought was amazing. Sadly now La Liga is slowly dieing, ran by incompetent fools who instead of trying to help and encourage the teams that need it are punishing and destroying for now is always a ‘two horse race’ it always will be.

I did my best to try to encourage, to try to promote Spanish football to all but was all a joke, is all a joke and it breaks my heart, is not all big money clubs fault is our fault for leaving clubs on their own then slowly watching them struggle. We are now a joke league of two teams, the rich get richer and the rest battle for scraps with no hope to compete, we watch our superstar players depart from clubs falling to pieces with no hope of ever holding them and every season becomes a survival.

Farewell to the La Liga I knew, the one I loved and the one I grew up with and welcome to modern day football where money is king.

Spain for sale

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Edd the Red
Edd the Red
8 years ago

Well a very interesting read Ana, you were very lucky to see those world class players in your first game. My first game was my local team Gillingham who had the mighty Simeon Jackson… not quite Rivaldo ;)

I know we discussed this a little bit on the forum but thought I should comment here. I’m with you on the ridiculousness of financial fair play, it is ridiculous when the French superpowers and the likes of Man City and Chelsea can spend so much money while other clubs struggle to survive. If someone knows a lot about financial fair play then please explain it to me because I don’t understand how it can be deemed “fair” in any sense of the word.

Liverpool have only spent as much as they have sold this year and we are in a position where we can no longer compete financially. Some people may say we have just spent poorly in the past and they would be right, but the year we signed Carroll, Downing and Henderson for a reported combined 75 million, was also the year we sold Fernando Torres for 50 million. How much have Chelsea and Man City made in player sales this year? Neither of them have a massive stadium either, so their income won’t be that much higher than ours. I accept they get champions league money but it shouldn’t have as big an effect as it does.

The situation is obviously worse in Spain with Madrid making a mockery of the current economy. 80+ million is absurd for any footballer and the worry is that this will set a benchmark and transfer fees will become even more inflated. This will be bad for everyone but especially the sides with little money as they will not be able to sign anyone and as a result, they will eventually die. That cannot be good for football!

The premiership started off this trend of paying huge amounts for players but now France has taken over in that regard. Spain and Germany have also contributed. Just this summer: Chelsea signing Willian for 30 milling, Bayern signing Gotze for over 30 million, Monaco signing Falcao for 55 million, PSG signing Cavani for 53 million, Barca signing Neymar for 50 million, then the possible 80 million + signing of Bale by Real Madrid. All of Europe has contributed this summer to the continuation of a money=success attitude. Unless something is done, a lot of clubs are going to end up like the ones you have mentioned in La Liga…

bigtukker
bigtukker
8 years ago

Than we’re not doing that bad in the Netherlands. The competition is bad, but fun.

Bradley Handelaar
Bradley Handelaar
8 years ago
Reply to  bigtukker

Doesn’t help that so many other european clubs snapped up the talent from last season too.

bigtukker
bigtukker
8 years ago

Yeah, I guess that’s our fate

Pedro Fontan
Pedro Fontan
8 years ago

Great Read Ana Very Passionate words about your Country and it’s league!!!!

The Portuguese League is much the same but without the Financial Power of the other Leagues!!

Let’s face it not Even Benfica or Porto have the financial Power of a team like Tottenham who would be considered 6th best team in the country!! and yet their Financial Power Completely dwarves the one the Top 2 teams iin Portugal have!! And Sporting who not a few years ago were in the Final of a European competition and now they’re selling their best player at less than 5 Million!! Also the pulling power of other leagues make the Portuguese league nothing more than a developer!!! Di Maria, Ramires, David Luiz, Fabio Coentrao, Quaresma, Cristiano Ronaldo, Figo, Pauleta,Lucho Gonzalez, Lisandro Lopez!!

All these players left simply because the Portuguese clubs didn’t have the League’s support or financial support to keep hold of them!!!! And i agree with you on the Financial Player it’s absolutely Ridiculous and it’s nothing more than words on a piece of paper!! So basically The Portuguese League has been like this since the 90’s with Paulo Futre and Jardel leaving for better Leagues and where the money is!! I have to say i never expected La Liga to turn out this way and atleast you got to see Barcelona in the good years of the league!!

I went to see a league match at the Estadio da Luz last year in my holidays!! The stadium holds 65.000 people in the day there were 22.000 people!! And you probably know that Portugal is completely in a shitty place(sorry the bad language) and like Spain way too many people are unemployed and the future doesn’t look good!! And yet clubs are spending 80 Million on players and giving them over 200k a week!!

Pedro Fontan
Pedro Fontan
8 years ago
Reply to  Ana Garcia

Considering Levante were in Europe last season and Depotivo La Coruna won the league a decade ago it’s not even rational to think the struggles they find themselves in!!! Florentino Perez and common sense should never be used in the same paragraph!!! Although it Pains me to see that players use Portuguese clubs as nothing more than stepping stones to places where there is more money atleast i saw my Benfica reach the final of the Europa League last season!! But we did lose to an english club xD!! Let’s just say that the Portuguese Federation and the Spanish Federation don’t really have the interests of the smaller clubs in mind!! Atleast we are lucky enough to support big clubs in our countries!! xD

Andrew
Andrew
8 years ago

Interesting piece. You forget to mention that B and RM are permitted to negotiate their own tv-deals while the rest of la liga negotiate in solidarity. But because of their “box office” draw B and RM makes several times the amount of the rest combined. In England (and Denmark where I am from) the whole league shares the money from the tv-deal in solidarity metered out by the final standingin the previous season.

nikozolo
nikozolo
8 years ago

So soooo glad to have you back Ana! I remember reading your stories as I was just getting into FM and was rather upset by your absence. You are right in saying that La Liga has lost its romance in a way. Sadly, I believe a lot of the problems stem from both how Spain AND the league set up politically and financially. Hope to see more of your posts soon enough.

aLan
aLan
8 years ago

Great article Ana! I am enjoyed reading it! Agree with you that La Liga is slowly dying in term of league competitive and fun compare to English Premier League. But i heard that the Financial Fair Play will only be apply next season (2014/15 season, correct me if i was mistaken), so i wouldn’t be surprise to see those big team spending outrageously this times as th. But personally i think we just CAN’T blame on the club spending spree to get the best players for their team as they wanted to stay as much as competitive as possible to compete in the league, no matter how much they have to pay! Besides, by bringing in best players around the world, than the league will attract more fans and viewers! There is another reason why English Premier League is the best league currently, their advertising policy and strategies where nowadays they held competition in Asian and American region, which have not been done in Spain or any other League, which totally an disadvantages to those countries, By doing, the league will certainly attract more money investment and sponsorship! This is where the money comes from! Besides, the football governing in England has done a great job in compensating those relegated team with acceptable money which help those team to regroup and survive even if their big player left after suffering relegation. There is so much thing for other league around the world to learn from English football (i am NOT saying that the English football is the best (SPAIN is the defending WC winner, not England).but at least its governing department has done as better job!.

Abdirisaq Osman
Abdirisaq Osman
8 years ago

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b1d86e60-0bde-11e3-8840-00144feabdc0.html#axzz2dLUSsS2u Mr tebas is trying to bring in a group deal but that will mean lack of coverage for spanish football. Bilbao can afford to pay big transfer fees but basque only means there is no point.

Johnny Karp
8 years ago

Excellent post Ana! The decline of the Spanish top flight is obvious, that is if you get to look beyond the glamour of Barcelona and Real Madrid. Unfortunately everything is linked to the economic climate in the country and I don’t know if there’s any hope for those clubs before the Spanish economy gets out of the current disaster.

ThatWagstaffKid
ThatWagstaffKid
8 years ago

Okay, so I may not be of any authority to comment on this, but here’s what I BELIEVE to be the reason English (and in some cases French and German) clubs can spend so much.

I’ll start with prize money. I believe, the way the La Liga is, is that a team finishing even in the top four doesn’t receive a whole lot of prize money.. I could be wrong here, but in comparison to the incredulous amount of money given to the top teams in Germany and England (I can’t quite remember what the figures are like in France) – the La Liga falls remarkably short. I’m not sure why this may be, but I imagine it’s in some part due to the television deals the league has.. maybe. I’m not entirely sure on that one.

Obviously there is a new television deal in the UK for the Premier League and it’s ‘feeder’ leagues. The Premier League alone I believe has raked in an extra £100m this year through television deals. This is why newly promoted teams are spending so much this season. They know that they will make profits this season, because they’re making tremendously large amounts of money on televised matches. I can only see this fee increasing, with Sky Sports and BT Sport battling it out to be the ‘king’ of British football coverage. Here’s the interesting part. I believe the money gained from television deals is distributed relatively evenly dependent on the club’s stature and their fan base, before taking into account their league position and etc. Certain games aren’t scheduled to be covered in the early season, but throughout the season changes are made. On top of this, some clubs have their own, individual TV deals (much like I believe Real Madrid and probably Barcelona have) – ones which bring them INSANE amounts of money.

Then, the owners. So the way it works is that there is a huge loophole. Small sponsorships can be given to a team in order to bring in extra revenue. For instance, Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan recently ‘rebranded’ the club, and will probably continue trying to do so. In return, he pays from his own company/companies into Cardiff’s ‘bank’. At this point, they can use that money to spend as much as they like. Of course, the money is used elsewhere also. You’ll see this happening more and more over Europe, clubs will get training kit sponsorships and their stadiums will be rebranded and renamed; The Emirates stadium being a pillar stone of this type of marketing. The Etihad is another famous one.

In effect, the teams spending a large amount of money ARE making the profits they need for it to be deemed fair. However, this money is now purely injected. There’s no ‘loan’ type-business anymore. Although I’m sure that’s still something that’s happening. The profit is being made through the chairmen or directors, or whoever the f**k owns the club putting a load of money into it.

As an avid football fan, it pains me to see teams spending such ridiculous amounts of money when you know it’s somewhat ridiculous. In the case of Real Madrid and Barcelona – they are two very rich clubs, who make a tonne of money without (as far as I’m aware – I’m sure you’ll correct me here if I’m wrong Ana) any interference from the owner. But clubs like PSG, Monaco, Manchester City, Chelsea, are all teams that have spent ridiculous amounts and bought their success. As a Manchester United fan, I could be being biased, but I’ll turn a blind eye to my club’s finances at the moment, although as far as I’m aware, they are stable and, at least in my opinion, not at all unfair. Tottenham are a club doing it right. Arsenal are a club doing it right. Liverpool are a club doing it right. I want to see the old top four back. But that’s probably just because I really f***ing hate Man City. ;)

Abdirisaq Osman
Abdirisaq Osman
8 years ago

Can I do my own post about footballing issues? I have a few ideas.

Chai Chien Liang
8 years ago

Real Madrid are just victims of Daniel Levy, he really pulled the rug from under his competitors in the Premier League by delaying the deal and thus preventing other clubs from buying some of Real Madrid’s squad players

Unfortunately with the TV deals in La Liga heavily skewed towards Barcelona and Real Madrid for now they will be the ones who retain the highest spending power (Barcelona also paid a hefty sum for Neymar too)

I still can’t believe Atletico Madrid managed to sign David Villa for 5.1 million euros (where was Wenger lol)

The problem with Barcelona is that they tend to sign players at a high price then end up selling them for a lot less than what they bought them for and losing money every time (Villa was signed for something like 40 million euros), if I recall correctly Barcelona made a huge loss on Zlatan Ibrahimovic too

But on the bright side, I see that Villareal are doing really well, the Yellow Submarine is well and alive (they signedt some good players like Sergio Asenjo (on loan) and Giovani Dos Santos and they still have Cani and Bruno Soriano leading the squad)

Chai Chien Liang
8 years ago
Reply to  Ana Garcia

Real Sociedad have done well, I would fancy Griezmann to give Manchester United some trouble :)

It is a bit insensitive for Real Madrid to spend so much considering the state the country is in (well overpaid for Gareth Bale, he is not worth that much YET :P)

The other clubs have not spend loads but they have their youth system to fall back on, unlike the EPL clubs who have spend in excess of 630 million on mainly imports from…….Spain ;)

eightnight
eightnight
8 years ago

Good post, Ana. A lot of valid points on how the financial climate in Spain make La Liga a feeder league. But its not all bad for Spain, Portugal, Holland and all the other “small” leagues (in terms of spending power): The Premier League is destroying the english national team! Its a poorly kept secret and with the u-21 and u-19 fiasco this summer, its proven right. The leagues referred to as smaller have a healthy influx of young national talent, who can develop and make the country proud in the coming years. I think Financial Fair Play will have a positive effect on these teams in the near future, as young players are more hesitant to join a Mega Team, as they know it will restrict their chances to get regular first team football.

As for the basic economic situation in these countries and the cause, I suspect it has something to do with the phenomenon called “leveraged buyouts”. Google it if you are unfamiliar with it. Probably more complex, but this is at least part of the problem Europe is facing.

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