Sevilla training ground highlights disparity in La Liga resources

March 15, 2010

SOCCER-CHAMPIONS/Seeing Sevilla’s rather dilapidated training ground for the first time in the beautiful Andalusian sunshine on Monday morning really brought home the gulf in resources compared with La Liga giants Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Currently fourth in the domestic league, a whopping 21 points behind leaders Real and second-placed Barca, Sevilla are the only other Spanish side still alive in this season’s Champions League but their Ciudad Deportiva José Ramón Cisneros Palacios is a world away from both the Madrid club’s enormous, state-of-the-art Ciudad Real Madrid out near Barajas airport and Barca’s gleaming Ciutat esportiva Joan Gamper.

Sprawling next to a busy highway and circled by a scrappy chain-link fence, Sevilla’s training pitches appear lush enough but the shabby buildings look like they were thrown up at minimal cost several decades ago.

As a colleague  remarked: “I’ve seen schools with better facilities.”

The club are proud of the facility, named after a former president, but there is no way they could afford the 68 million euros Barca spent building their training ground, which opened in 2006.

Real say their Valdebebas facility, at 1.2 million square metres, is more than four times the size of Manchester United’s (280,000 square metres). Sevilla’s, at 250,000 square metres, is considerably larger than Barca’s (137,000) but the low-slung, white brick buildings look tired and dated compared with the gleaming steel and glass of the Catalans’ facility.

Real and Barca topped the latest Deloitte ranking of clubs by revenue, in part due to their dominance of income from La Liga audiovisual rights, which are negotiated on an individual basis in Spain and not collectively as in rival European leagues.

Real earned a record 401.4 million euros ($551 million) and Barca climbed above Manchester United into second with 366 million.

Sevilla, with annual revenue of around 65 million (if, like Deloitte, you strip out capital transactions and non-football related items) don’t even make the top 30, with Atletico Madrid the only other La Liga side present on annual income of 100 million.

Sevilla, UEFA Cup winners in 2006 and 2007, are high achievers considering their limited resources but surely it’s time for the La Liga TV income pie to be divided up more fairly.

How much further might the club go then?

PHOTO: Sevilla coach Manuel Jimenez attends a training session at the club’s training ground in Seville March 15, 2010. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

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