April 15th2015 is an important date in the history of Spanish football, albeit one that many people still don’t appreciate the significance of. It was on that day that a Royal Decree was issued, forever changing the way that broadcasting rights for the top two flights of Spanish football are sold. Not only did the Royal Decree introduce joint selling of broadcasting rights, it also included provisions for ensuring that the profits are divided evenly among the clubs.
The law was the result of years of negotiations, during which time a plethora of different ideas were put forward. So intense were the negotiations that some commentators have compared the process to the drafting of Spain’s post-Franco constitution in 1978. However, ultimately domestic broadcasters, football clubs, La Liga officials, and even the Spanish government were all united in their desire to solve the issue.
The nitty gritty of the joint selling arrangements are too involved for this article, but it’s easy enough to understand in broad terms. The purpose of the new regulations is to both affirm that the broadcasting rights for La Liga games should remain with the clubs in the league, and that the revenue generated from the sale of those rights should be divided equally among the clubs.
Both of these goals are achieved by mandating that La Liga clubs pool their rights and transfer them to La Liga’s organisers. The organisers then handle the sale of those rights as one complete package, and ensure that the revenue is distributed evenly between all the clubs.
At the end of July of this year, La Liga announced that it was withdrawing the tender for broadcast rights for the UK and Ireland because it has received “no satisfactory bids”. La Liga organisers had set a deadline of 25th July for receiving bids on the rights to broadcast La Liga games for the next three seasons.
The rights were taken off the table, raising the prospect that La Liga games simply would not be broadcast in the UK or Ireland. Given that the UK market is one of the most important for football on the world stage, this news worried some fans of La Liga.
Investment in La Liga clubs comes from various places in Europe. For example, the club Real Bet is recently signed a sponsorship deal with currency trading provider easyMarkets, worth a reported 2 million Euros a year. easyMarkets make trading Forex easy; an already successful business, they will be hoping that this sponsorship deal boosts the business’s profile. News that the games might not be shown in one of the most important footballing nations in the world caused understandable worry.
Fortunately, the issue has now been resolved and ITV4 has secured the rights to broadcast La Liga games in the UK and Ireland. ITV4 will take over from Eleven Sports, who fumbled their existing deal, leading to the previous impasse. The free-to-air channel has agreed to broadcast La Liga games in the UK, but so far, it’s deal only covers three games, two of which have now been played. La Liga’s UK rights are still up for grabs for the rest of the season.