Prepare for a revolution

Broadcasting rights have always been an issue for La Liga.
Broadcasting rights have always been an issue for La Liga. / Reuters
  • 'Project Big Picture' in England comes as a timely reminder to bosses in Spain that decisions made now will shape the future of professional football

It's like having the wealthy relatives living in the big house on the hill; you may live in the same postcode, but you'll never quite enjoy the same riches or power.

Football is ripe for a major evolution. In fact, prepare for a revolution.

Already in England, the power brokers have met to discuss 'Project Big Picture' where the affluent clubs pass on some of the finances to those struggling following the pandemic - but of course with strings attached. The lesser clubs will get a bail out, but the prosperous organisations will take the opportunity to increase their voting powers.

Basically, the top six clubs in England are promising to pass on some of the interest from their bank balances if those who could soon be penniless allow them to call all the shots.

They came up with a list of draft proposals - like reducing the top league to eighteen teams and the whole pyramid to ninety teams. It's a work in progress and initially unpopular, but it has shades of the revolution led by Rick Parry when the Premier League was formed 28 years ago, and we know what came next.

So far, their Spanish counterparts have been quiet and there hasn't been any public signs that they are considering a similar project. This is a vital time for the Spanish authorities to get their act together and start the evolution. Maybe Barcelona are distracted by internal unrest and it isn't natural for Real Madrid to form a pact, however the giants must put their heads together if professional football is to prosper in the country.

The accusation in England is that there has been an unscrupulous 'power grab'. In Spain they've only just come to terms with the idea of collective bargaining.

It's the so-called Big Six in the Premier League who want to call the shots. In short, the clubs who capture the attention of foreign fans. In La Liga it could be argued that it's the 'Big Two' with Barça and Real in a great position to flex their muscles.

La Liga has tried to work collectively to sell the game at home and abroad and this should be applauded. There has been some joined up thinking from previously disjointed organisations but alas, they are still lightyears behind the brand that is the English Premier League.

Over the past two decades La Liga has built up a worldwide audience. The 'Fifa generation' grew up watching Saturday and Sunday night games. The Nou Camp and Bernabéu museums became must-go tourist destinations. The hipster fans adopted a smaller club with an interesting backstory.

It could be argued that they lost a large percentage of the floating fans with an ill-advised decision to sell the UK and other area rights to streaming services. If you don't know what that means, you are in the majority and that's why interest in Spanish football waned. Basically, you could only watch games on a mobile phone or laptop.

Now La Liga TV has taken on the rights and with improved production values. It's a very basic version of the EPL equivalent.

It's a start, just as lockdown must signal ground-zero for Spain's football marketing folk. The decisions made now will shape the future, indeed if there is a future, for professional football in Spain for decades to come.