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Dirty Tackle

Spanish economist says La Liga could ‘kill itself’ within five years, suggests Iberian league

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Barcelona's new away kit is clearly to blame. (Getty)

Jose Maria Gay de Liebana, economics professor at the Universidad de Barcelona and Spain's leading football economist predicts Spanish football will kill itself within five years if current troubles don't change. He says that revenues aren't rising fast enough to match high costs and La Liga's television deals are poorly structured. He also believes too much importance is placed on attracting Chinese fans and suggests the radical change of forming an Iberian league with Portugal's three biggest clubs. Other than that, he thinks everything is just fine and dandy.

From Soccernet:

"If things go on like this, Spanish football will kill itself," he said. "A year ago I predicted that La Liga had only ten seasons left, now I see that five more would be a lot." [...]

"La Liga's television rights are badly sold because they are shared between two operators, when in the rest of Europe negotiations are with one party," he said. "Also, in my opinion, the Chinese market is wrongly prioritised, when the American and Japanese are more relevant. In this way, the global reach of the contracts should be changed."

One of Gay de Liebana's more speculative solutions for helping Spanish clubs to increase their revenues was to form an Iberian league, including Portugal's big three clubs.

"Today the Spanish league is not of great interest," he said. "Adding a Portuguese part would give us extra glamour, with Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. It would give us more character."

Obviously the chances of an Iberian league actually being formed are slim, but adjustments could be made to the level of focus being put on attracting Chinese fans. In June, the Spanish football federation signed a €32 million deal that will have five of the next seven Supercopas hosted in China and La Liga kickoff times have been changed to better suit supporters in Asia.

Similar doomsday predictions have been made for other leagues across Europe, but like when scientists warn of the disastrous effects of global warming, they are usually dismissed when the disembodied head of Al Gore doesn't immediately set the earth on fire.

Considering Gay de Liebana's claims to having done research that proves "the long-term detrimental financial effect that Jose Mourinho's transfer policies had on clubs he managed," maybe some of Spanish football's issues can be fixed simply by giving Mourinho a one-way ticket to MLS or the J-League.

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