Oscar Mayo, the executive general director of La Liga and next general director of operations of Atlético Madrid, was one of the panelist at the Expansión and BRAND Business Sport Forum. The event discussed the new sponsorships in La Liga as well as technology and trends in the sports industry. Oscar Mayo spoke about some of the changes and shifts in strategy implemented by La Liga.
On the change in television distribution and the narrowing gap between the big clubs and the smaller clubs, Mayo was explicit: “We no longer see leagues with 100 points, the difference has gone from 1 to 10, Madrid was earning ten times more than the newly promoted clubs and the clubs that earned the least, and now it is 1/3.5. It is increasingly difficult to get points. The competition is interested in a strong Madrid and Barca because they are our engines, but I want there to be a more exciting league. Now we see clubs that are growing very strongly: Betis, Real Sociedad, Athletic... they have taken a leap and are getting closer increasingly to the big clubs. There are competitions where it costs more to win each match and that is the way to go. And then financial sustainability, an industry that is not sustainable cannot be sustained over time. Our fight is to sustain it over time. And take it to Europe, because if it doesn’t happen in the rest of the countries we are at a disadvantage .”
The television distribution changes have long been a contentious issue for Real Madrid with La Liga. The club feel they are not fairly compensated for the value that they provide. Gerard Pique explained the thought process of Madrid and Barcelona when speaking at the same event via skype: “I think we are going to see changes in the future, I don’t know to what extent. What I am clear about is that what Barca and Madrid are trying to do with the Super League is for people to realize that with this model they cannot compete. There are many examples, but think of the distribution of television rights. 2,000 million are distributed and there are clubs that you see that don’t have an audience that warrants the value they earn. It makes no sense that they receive that money. Andorra (the club Pique owns) is a very extreme case, if we were promoted to the First Division you are guaranteed 50 million, and Barça and Madrid have 150 million when they have a hundred thousand times more fans. That injustice does not seem right to me. They will tell you that there are clubs that are making a living off of them. There are matches in the First Division that very few people watch, and then you see that the cast for distribution is very similar. I already tell you that all the greats in Europe are wanting to do something like that.”
La Liga is certainly more competitive and financially stable which makes for a better product but Barcelona and Real Madrid will continue to feel exploited, especially when they have to compete with the Premier League and state-run clubs in Europe. A difficult balancing act for all parties involved.