A two horse race. Is La Liga slowly turning into the SPL?

The distribution of TV money in La Liga is such that Barcelona and Real Madrid are going to get stronger and stronger leaving the rest of the teams way behind.
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Barcelona started their defence of the title last weekend with a resounding 7-0 victory over Levante, leading 6-0 before the first half had even come to an end. Real Madrid also won but in a slightly less emphatic manner, beating Real Betis 2-1 thanks to a late Isco winner. You would presume that victories for these sides shown live on Sky Sports would remain the tone for the rest of the season, and other sides such as Atletico Madrid, Valencia, and Real Sociedad will just be battling out for 3rd and 4th place finishes.

Unlike the Premiership and most other leagues, Spanish clubs sell the TV rights to their games on an individual club basis. Last season Real Madrid received €140 m from TV revenue whilst Granada’s TV revenue amounted to just €12m. The gap between the clubs is just going to get wider and wider if this continues to happen, making the Spanish league very boring and predictable. Francisco Roca the chief executive of La Liga admits it is a problem and plans are being made to try and change the situation, but even if it is rectified it could take years to have any effect. In the last 9 seasons of La Liga Real Madrid and Barcelona have occupied the top 2 positions bar 2008 when Villarreal took 2nd place.

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Atletico Madrid Manager Diego Simeone has branded La Liga boring due to the complete dominance by the aforementioned. Barcelona and Real Madrid can continue to spend huge amounts of money on new players each summer despite not necessarily needing them. The imminent arrival of Bale is set to break the world transfer record, whilst a lot has already been spent on Asier Illarramendi, Isco and in Barcelona’s case Neymar. On the other hand, Sevilla one of the better teams outside the top 2 have had to deal with the departures of Alvaro Negredo, Jesus Navas, and Gary Medel. The gap is only going to continue to widen therefore making the Spanish top flight similar to the Scottish Premier League where either Celtic or Rangers have won the league for the last 28 years.

In the last 4 years of La Liga the gap between 2nd and 3rd has been 25, 21, 30 and 9 points respectively. Whilst the games that the top two do take part in remain entertaining and avidly watched due to the quality on show, more has to be done in order to protect the security of La Liga’s teams overall. The system in the Premier League works and whilst there is still a divide, the difference between the top sides is not as big as it is in Spain. The knock on effect of this has also led to the underperformance of Spanish sides bar Madrid and Barca in the Champions League. Very rarely does another side threaten in the latter stages. But for now La Liga will remain split, into a battle for top spot and then a battle for 3rd and 4th for the rest.

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