Spanish league calls for tax cut on tickets

MADRID - Spain's professional football league (LFP) has called on the government to cut sales tax on match tickets to help the sport during a time of economic hardship.

The same value-added tax (VAT) rate of 7 percent levied on tickets for theatres, cinemas and amusement parks should be applied to ticket sales and season subscriptions instead of the current 16 percent, LFP president Jose Luis Astiazaran said.

"It is not our intention to bleed money from state coffers but it must be acknowledged that the future of Spanish football could be at risk if we do not take the necessary steps," Astiazaran told a conference in Madrid on Monday night.

"It (the tax reduction) would be a welcome measure which would contribute to promoting sports as well as satisfying the requirements of fiscal equality and neutrality," he added. "Let's find ways that help in this crisis situation."

The LFP's demand is unlikely to find much sympathy with Spain's Socialist government at a time when unemployment has doubled to close to 20 percent and the fiscal deficit swelled to 11.4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

A spokesman for the government's sports council (CSD) said on Tuesday any issues relating to professional sport, including sales tax, would be addressed in a new law that would be drawn up once a parliamentary commission had presented recommendations next month.

"There is no concrete stance yet (on the VAT issue) and we'll have to wait for the new law," the spokesman said.

Astiazaran also said on Monday that a large majority of La Liga clubs wanted the system of negotiating television rights, under which Real Madrid and Barcelona rake in around half of the revenue, to be changed to one similar to that used in rival European leagues.

Clubs in competitions such as the English Premier League negotiate television deals collectively and Astiazaran said the Spanish system should be more centralised.

"All our neighbouring countries and leagues have a centralised (TV) marketing system, where the distribution of the income from the exploitation of those rights is determined by law," Astiazaran said.

Barca president Joan Laporta told Reuters in an interview on Feb. 10 the European champions would be unwilling to accept a system of sharing television revenue as it would weaken their ability to compete with European rivals.