Spanish clubs plot seperate division

MADRID - A battle between Spanish clubs over revenue from TV deals escalated on Monday when some of the richer teams said they planned to create a separate first division and poorer clubs urged the government to introduce a system of collective bargaining.

After a meeting of a group including Real Madrid and Barcelona, the professional football league (LFP) said agreement had been reached to discuss how to create a separate first division similar to the Premier League or Italy's Serie A.

Poorer clubs from both first and second divisions responded by calling on Spain's Socialist government to force all professional clubs to adopt a system of collective negotiation like that in rival European leagues, the LFP said in a separate statement.

In Spain, clubs negotiate deals with TV companies individually, unlike in the English Premier League, the German Bundesliga and France's Ligue 1, where collective deals are struck and revenue shared out.

Real and Barca, the world's richest clubs, rake in half the available cash, with deals worth about 150 million euros a season, leaving the rest, some of whom are in dire financial trouble, to fight over the scraps.

The poorer clubs asked the government to include rules on collective bargaining in a sports law that is currently being drawn up.

BETTER RUN

The richer clubs had said their planned separate first division would create "a much more attractive and better-run competition than the current one".

Mechanisms would be established to control club finances and ensure ways of helping clubs in lower divisions if they were relegated and got into difficulties, the clubs added.

It was unclear if the LFP will have any role in the proposed new first division and there was no mention of whether TV cash would be shared around.

"A series of working meetings will start from June 21 to study the best way of putting (the plan) into practice," the LFP said, adding that the goal was to reach an accord before the start of next season.

As sports daily reported on Monday that the clubs in the new first division would share TV cash, with each getting a fixed amount, a figure based on audience share and a further sum according to their final league position.

However, Real and Barca have repeatedly said they are unwilling to accept a system of collective bargaining, arguing that it will hurt their competitiveness in European competition.

The current standings in La Liga underscore their dominance over TV revenue, which allows them to buy the top players and pay the highest wages.

Barca lead on 96 points, Real are second on 95 and Valencia trail way behind in third on 68.

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