By Andrew Warshaw
July 29 – A fresh row has broken out between the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) and La Liga, who have long had a fraught relationship, this time over playing top-flight games on Fridays and Mondays.
The first three rounds of matches for the upcoming season had been scheduled by the league, with Athletic Bilbao hosting champions Barcelona in the season opener on Friday, August 16.
But the RFEF has now controversially rescheduled those fixtures because the league had not asked permission to alter its calendar.
“Spanish football fans do not want games on these days,” the RFEF said. “Especially on Mondays, it is very difficult for fans to enjoy games.”
German fans have made a point of complaining about Monday games which also take place regularly in the English Premier League though without similar public protests. The English season, ironically, is also set to begin on a Friday on August 9.
The changes mandated by the Spanish federation mean the season there will now open with Athletic-Barcelona a day later than originally planned, on Saturday, August 17.
But La Liga insists it is sticking to the original dates despite a demand to back down, claiming the ruling threatens their €2 billion of broadcast deals. A court hearing has now been set for August 7.
“With this illegal conduct RFEF officials are generating confusion in the national and international broadcast space, which accounts for €2 billion euros in annual rights income for La Liga,” declared an angry La Liga president Javier Tebas.
“These officials have no idea of the consequences of their irresponsible acts. This has no purpose, nothing will change, this only creates confusion, which is the only thing they know how to do.”
This latest dispute follows a much-publicised clash between the two organisations over La Liga’s failed bid to play one top-flight game a season overseas, the first of which was scheduled for Miami in January but was called off when it was vetoed by the national federation.
Unlike in other major European countries, the Spanish FA has a major say in exactly when domestic club fixtures take place.
La Liga says it is “the only competent organisation to set schedules and dates in the national professional football competition”.
But the RFEF countered that the judge made the ruling “due to the incompatibilities detected between the approved calendar and the days and established schedules”.
“Setting the schedules is a competency of the League, while the days are of the RFEF,” it added.
The ruling also stipulates that, going forward, Spanish first and second division games can only played on days other than Saturday and Sunday with express permission from the FA.
If the league loses the case, Real Mallorca’s meeting with Eibar, which was initially set for Monday August 19, will also have to be changed as will Real Betis’ fixture against Real Valladolid.
Here is how the ruling will impact across the top flight unless it is overturned:
Athletic-Barcelona: to be played on Saturday August 17 at 20:45 (from Friday August 16)
Mallorca-Eibar: moves to Saturday Aug 17th (from Monday August 19)
Betis-Valladolid: now Sunday August 18 (not Monday 19th)
Elche-Fuenlabrada: Saturday August 17 (not Monday Aug. 19)
Granada-Sevilla: now Saturday Aug. 24th (not Friday Aug 23)
Leganés-Atlético: now Saturday 24th (not Monday Aug 26.)
Levante-Villarrea: Sunday 25th (not Friday Aug. 23)
Albacete-Girona: Saturday 24th (not Friday Aug. 23)
Extremadura-Fuenlabrada: Sat. 24th (not Monday 19/08)
Sevilla-Celta: Sat Aug. 31 (not Friday Aug. 30)
Athletic-Real Sociedad: Sat Aug 31 (not Friday Aug. 30)
Las Palmas-Racing: Sunday Sep 1 (not Friday Aug. 30)
Girona-Málaga: Sunday Sept 1 (not Sunday 2nd)
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