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La Liga must end duopoly at top

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La Liga is at its competitive best, but will duopoly at top end soon?

Timothy Bridge, Spanish football expert at Deloitte says that Spanish Primera Division has invested a lot in last five years to brand it as global league. They want to be as competitive as Premier League, but the question is will they be able to bring competitiveness in the league itself and end duopoly at top.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have dominated La Liga with their respective 25 and 33 titles (58 titles together), out of total 87 seasons. Atletico Madrid sits at third with their 10 titles, and none of other clubs except them have surpassed double figure titles to their name.

La Liga looks more competitive than ever

It’s a big question mark if La Liga wants to be a global league. Barcelona and Real Madrid can give them global appeal, but they can only help them with the viewership of their own matches. Barcelona and Real Madrid both together can only boast of increasing viewership in 74 matches altogether, but over a season 380 matches are played. It’s only around 20% of the matches played.

Bridge adds as BBC reports, “They are willing to take the risk, as they obviously believe the game is going to become even more significant globally in future. But one major challenge remains, namely getting more clubs competing for the league title. Real Madrid and Barcelona have won all but one of the last 14 titles.”

He adds, “The reason the Premier League is so successful is that on any given day any team can beat any other one, that doesn’t happen enough at present in La Liga.”

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Well, in La Liga also on any given day any team can beat any other one. At least, we have witnessed that in 2018/19 season. The top five have together lost 15 games. It’s good number to prove the competitiveness of the league.

Premier League top five have altogether lost only seven matches, Serie A and Bundesliga top five respectively have lost 12 matches altogether, and even Ligue 1 top five have lost only 14 matches. It proves that La Liga is most competitive league right now, and on any given day any team can beat anyone.

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Barcelona have lost against the likes of Real Betis and Leganes (A). They have played draw against Atletico Madrid (A), Valencia (A), Girona (H), and Athletic Bilbao (H). It’s pretty good stats considering the competitive level of other La Liga teams.

Real Madrid have suffered five defeats and two draws as well out of 14 rounds of matches. They lost against the likes of Sevilla (A), Alaves (A), Levante (H), Barcelona (A), and Eibar (A). Los blancos also played draw against Athletic Bilbao (A) and Atletico Madrid (H).

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It’s pretty evident looking at the La Liga table and matches lost by both Spanish giants that La Liga has become more competitive than ever, but the real problem remains the same. Will that duopoly at top end?

Barcelona still leads the table. Real Madrid currently sits at fifth, but they are only five points away from top. Soon, they’ll catch up and reach higher on the ladder.

Sevilla only topped the league for a week. Andalusians could have done better to stay at the top but they played a draw against Alaves who also sits at fourth on the table. They lost against the likes of Real Betis, Getafe, and Barcelona.

Serie A ready with global appeal and competitiveness

Atletico Madrid sits at third because they have played more draw than winning the game. They have lost only one game, but they have played seven draws, and won only six games. Los Colchoneros are used to finish in top four and this could have been their season again ending duopoly if they’d have been little more consistent.

It seems to me that duopoly can’t be ended unless and until, the giant duo themselves become more complacent and become used to losing the games consistently. Other teams haven’t become better, it’s only Barcelona and Real Madrid is going through a transformation period.

Javier Tebas has done a very good job after becoming CEO of La Liga. When he came on board, he has two pressing tasks; to clear up the financial situations at clubs and reforming the existing TV deals towards a collective model. Spanish clubs have to submit budgets in advance, if they can’t meet their liabilities then they are placed under a transfer embargo, and other restrictions.

Earlier, TV rights weren’t centralized. Each clubs have their own individual TV deals and clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid were used to getting major deals. There was huge difference between the income of Spanish giant duo and the income of other teams, but now it has been settled. It doesn’t mean bigger clubs are not earning more money than smaller clubs, but now smaller clubs also have their pie from the very same TV rights which Barcelona and Real Madrid shares.

Joris Evers, global communications officer for La Liga says, “We are building our global brand… moving forwards and changing from being a football regulator into an entertainment provider. La Liga has opened various offices recently – including in Dubai, India, China, Singapore, South Africa, Nigeria, the US and Mexico.”

He added in BBC reports, “There has also been the formation of the La Liga Global Network initiative, hiring 44 people around the world to be “business scouts” on La Liga’s behalf. They are looking to discover new markets, to make sure we know about different markets, to look for opportunities and also to be aware of potential threats. We are working to further penetrate those markets that look promising.”

The La Liga delegates have unique role in each different market. They are taking a 360 degree view in each potential market from opening academies, securing sponsorships, TV deals – and also being a resource on the ground for La Liga clubs.

According to UEFA’s league coefficient, La Liga has been the top league in Europe over the last five years and has led Europe for more years (21) than any other country. It has also produced the continent’s top-rated club more times (21) than any other league, more than double that of second-placed Serie A. Its clubs have won the most UEFA Champions League (18), UEFA Europa League (11), UEFA Super Cup (15), and FIFA Club World Cup (6) titles. And, its players have accumulated the highest number of (FIFA) Ballon d’Or awards (19) as well.

All the records boast that La Liga is the best league in the world. It only has failed to bring the balance between the giant duos level and other 18 competing teams. La Liga officials are committed to bring a balance between the revenues of each clubs, so that they can compete with giant duo. They want to give the competition a new shape and smaller clubs have shown the intent to compete against the bigger ones. It’s only a matter of time before the duopoly can be challenged, but still it’s a long way ahead. Barcelona and Real Madrid are yet not ready to lose their global appeal, when they have started to challenge the revenues of other big clubs especially the club which belongs to Premier League.

Note: Giant duo has been referred to Barcelona and Real Madrid


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