La Liga could return to action as early as next month, its president Javier Tebas said yesterday, as the league awaits a chance to restart following the coronavirus shutdown. Tebas also warned Spanish clubs could lose as much as 1bn euros ($1.1bn) if the season is not completed, pushing football bosses in the country to search for a late finish to the current campaign.
“The different scenarios we have been looking at with UEFA to go back to competing are most probably starting on the May 28-29, June 6-7 or June 28-29,” Tebas said. “We’re not just looking at what happens in Spain... the job is to get all our calendars (in Europe) in line so all the competitions are able to finish together.”
But Tebas said no team training could take place until after the state of emergency ends in Spain — currently set until April 26. Should that end date be pushed back the chances of restarting in May would likely vanish.
Tebas said “it is not an option” to cancel the season given the massive hit to revenue Spain’s top clubs would have to absorb, with 150mn euros gone even if La Liga finishes the season with fans at matches. “We are not considering at all that we will not get back to playing matches,” he said.
“It is not just league revenues, it is league revenues plus all the other revenue from the Champions League that teams wouldn’t receive. We are talking about 1bn euros if we don’t get back to playing, 300mn euros if we play behind closed doors and 150mn euros if we do to get back to playing with fans.”
Fixtures are expected to be held behind closed doors, at least at first, with some Spanish clubs facing the prospect of playing away from their own grounds due to scheduled building work. “The last businesses that will return to normal are theatres, cinemas, events that people attend,” said Tebas. “We are an industry like that but we can resume part of our activity without people because the fundamental part of our income comes from TV.”
The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced later yesterday that a committee including representatives from the Players’ Union (AFE) and La Liga had agreed summer matches would be played every 72 hours at most and with two drinks breaks in each half due to heat. The Covid-19 pandemic has killed nearly 14,000 people in Spain, the world’s second hardest-hit country after Italy in terms of deaths. Yesterday, Spain said a further 743 people had died but that the “downward trend” is continuing despite an increase in the latest figures.
Meanwhile, Tebas has warned against relaxing UEFA’s financial fair play rules as clubs struggle to cope with a loss of income due to the pause in competitions due to the coronavirus pandemic. Tebas has long talked of the need for the need to uphold the financial fair play rules, which oblige clubs to break even and are intended to prevent them from receiving unlimited amounts of money through inflated sponsorship deals.
English champions Manchester City were slapped with a two-year ban from European competition in February for flouting the regulations, although the European Club Association (ECA) has said the break-even rules could be relaxed due to the coronavirus situation. Tebas expressed his opposition to such a proposal, however, citing the fact that Spanish clubs are owed 350mn euros in transfer fees, due to be paid by Sept. 30.
“It’s important these obligations are met, because if these European clubs don’t pay Spanish clubs the Spanish clubs may not be able to pay other European clubs,” Tebas said. “That’s why it’s important for the regulations to continue as they are and no-one tries to make the most of the circumstances and not pay.”
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