Malaga owner: Spain needs TV income sharing

DOHA, Dec 10 (Reuters) - Spain should adopt a more equitable system for sharing television revenue similar to the one used in England to address the dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona, according to Malaga president Sheikh Abdullah al Thani.

Real and Barca, the world's richest clubs by income, take around half the annual pot of 600 million euros for La Liga TV rights, meaning they can afford the massive transfer fees and wages commanded by the best players.

They negotiated their current TV deals individually, unlike in the Premier League and rival European leagues where clubs bargain collectively and income is shared.

An agreement brokered last month with 11 other top-flight sides on sharing some of the TV cash from 2015 is likely to cement their advantage while helping the others only marginally, analysts have said.

"The situation now honestly is not good, regarding the TV rights," al Thani, a member of the Qatari royal family who bought Malaga for 36 million euros in June, told Reuters at his guest house in Doha.

"It's not good for the clubs, because only the two big teams are leading the whole issue.

"We wish to have the same system as they have in England, because it's much more fair."

A study published in May by Sport+Markt, a consulting firm, showed Real and Barca earned almost 19 times more from TV deals than the smallest clubs in the top division, by far the biggest gap among European leagues.

The richest clubs in the Premier League, which generates just over a billion euros a year in broadcast revenue, earned about 1.7 times more than their smaller rivals.

In Spain, the La Liga also-rans are left to thrash out their own deals as best they can and many have tumbled deep into the red and even administration as a result. They have no real hope of winning the title.

"There are some clubs at the bottom, they have some problems, financial and other problems," al Thani said. "It doesn't make for fair competition."


Surrounded by pink marble columns, powder blue chairs and a crystal chandelier that would not be out of place at London's most ornate hotels, al Thani set out his ambitions for the Andalusian club, which went into administration in 2006.

It will take four to five years to implement a development plan that is aimed at securing qualification for the Champions League, Europe's lucrative elite club competition, he said.

"What we are planning in coming years, we are targeting to reach a strong position in the Champions League.

"We've started to do a lot of things to prepare the club to be in this position.

"But we have to start from the foundation: by talent, by the players. It's not a matter of (investing) money so much as establishing a good foundation for the club."

Malaga currently lie 17th in the 20-team La Liga standings, one place above the relegation zone, and last month sacked coach Jesualdo Ferreira and appointed former Real Madrid manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Al Thani, wearing a thobe, a traditional Gulf Arab white gown, and pearl and diamond cufflinks, said the club planned to add some players to Pellegrini's squad in the January transfer window and possibly more after the end of the season.

"Because of our position in the league, we have to be careful about choosing the right players at the right time.

"We have no limited budget - when we decide to buy a player, we don't look that much at the cost."


Chilean Pellegrini, who was replaced at Real by Jose Mourinho after one trophyless season, was the right man to oversee Malaga's sporting project, al Thani said.

"Pellegrini is a big coach, an international coach. He has a very good profile. We have a target with Pellegrini to establish a philosophy. He has both a short plan and a long-term plan to reach our target."

As well as his interest in football, al Thani also manages a diverse business empire which employs around 3,000 people and operates in more than 30 countries.

His interests include hotels, shopping centres, mobile phone companies and car dealerships and he is a vice-chairman and shareholder of Doha Bank.

Asked why he had decided in buy Malaga, he said it was primarily because he was a football fan.

Last week Qatar was chosen by football's governing body FIFA to host the World Cup in 2022, when it will become the first Arab country to stage the finals.

"At the beginning we used to come to Marbella for tourism, so we knew the place, we liked the Costa del Sol," he said.

"Then we were looking for opportunities and introduced the project to invest in the club, and negotiated to buy the whole club."