By Andrew Warshaw
August 12 – The bitter dispute between La Liga and the Spanish FA (RFEF) over which days are eligible for league matches has been resolved with a judge ruling that Fridays are fine but imposing a blanket ban on games being played on Monday nights.
The compromise ruling means Athletic Bilbao will, after all, be able to open the new season at home to Barcelona this coming Friday – it was moved to Saturday before the judge’s ruling – but that matches scheduled for Mondays, including Real Mallorca’s meeting with Eibar set for August 19, will have to be switched, at least for the first three weeks of the season.
The case went to court after the RFEF controversially rescheduled certain fixtures because the league had not asked permission to alter its calendar.
“The RFEF will not authorise LaLiga on Fridays (without an agreement), nor on Mondays,” Federation president Luis Rubiales wrote on Twitter. “[LaLiga chief] Javier Tebas looks down on football, the fans and even the CSD (government council for sport).”
“The wishes of the fans are fulfilled. It’s a historic day. The position of the RFEF and my commitment to Spanish football and the fans has been fulfilled.”
But Tebas is still optimistic that Monday nights will ultimately be allowed and La Liga will appeal against the decision saying it contains “clear contradictions and passes judgment over issues it was not required to without offering sound judicial motives, arguments or reasoning”.
“We started with a total ban for Fridays and Mondays, but now it turns out that we can play on Fridays,” said Tebas. “So, I’m convinced that it won’t take us long to play on Mondays as well.”
“We have to remember that we had nothing. We have a long way to go, but we’ll move forward and go for Mondays.”
The spread of fixtures had helped with television scheduling, but even without Monday night matches LaLiga have been able to find enough broadcasting slots across the weekends of the first three rounds of fixtures. “We’ve achieved the ten time slots,” Tebas explained. “I think that does a lot to minimise the damage to the operators. Sooner or later Monday football will be allowed in Spain.”
Reaction to the farcical situation was predictably strong. “The Spanish league is the laughing stock of the world because of the row over kick-off times,” fumed Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar.
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