By Paul Nicholson
May 6 – Real Madrid have lost a Spanish court case against LaLiga which challenged the legal right of the league to promote and sell its commercial and broadcast inventory.
The Spanish club are having a poor run in their battles against football’s governing bodies and are rapidly turning themselves into a pariah in club football, both domestically and internationally with their belligerent refusal to back away from the European Super League proposal.
The Spanish court ruling was unequivocal in its ruling that LaLiga was the body responsible for promoting and increasing the value of competition and that it was central to the increase in value and revenues that had been achieved.
Real Madrid had asked the court to force LaLiga to provide more detailed accounts from the 2018-19 season and in particular broadcast rights deals, including detail on international sales, commissions and financial beneficiaries. The club, as well as asking the court to overturn decisions agreed at LaLiga’s General Assembly of October 2019, also demanded that the audiovisual rights that had not been commercialised should be handed back clubs. Real Madrid also asked the court to order LaLiga to pay them €23.9 million as compensation.
The case was of major importance in Spain because if Real Madrid had won, LaLiga’s role would have been emaciated to one of competition administrator with no marketing or commercial power.
For Spain’s less wealthy clubs the ultimate impact of losing a share of centralised revenues would have been potentially life threatening in the longer term and would have only polarised further the gap between the rich and poor of Spanish club football.
In his ruling, delivered by letter, the judge came down in favour LaLiga’s centralised rights management, saying: “It is not reasonable that the significant growth experienced in income from audiovisual rights would have occurred without being accompanied by optimal commercial management and investment.”
A league statement said: “LaLiga considers that this resolution is of great importance considering the main legal reasons used for its dismissal as they highlight the unequivocal role that LaLiga has in the commercial management of audiovisual rights and the obligation that this entails to guarantee optimal management and investment, with the aim of obtaining the highest possible economic return from the commercialization of audiovisual rights, which results not only in the financing of professional clubs and in the relevance of the Spanish League, so that it can compete on equal terms with the main European leagues.”
The court ruled against Real Madrid’s €23.9 million claim, awarding legal costs to laLiga.
“LaLiga highly values this ruling that revalidates LaLiga’s powers to continue working and making use of the main tools that have allowed it to compete on equal terms in the market, preserve and increase the value of audiovisual rights with the consequent benefit for the global ecosystem of professional football,” said LaLiga.
The global football ecosystem is something Real Madrid have shown only passing regard for as they have spearheaded seismic proposals to tear it apart and boost their own bank balance.
Real Madrid can appeal the ruling.
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