La Liga’s great divide
The red carpet was out in the VIP lounge at the Bernabeu last week and four immaculately-dressed Emirates air hostesses helped usher in the dignitaries as Real Madrid presented a new sponsorship agreement with the Dubai-based airline.
No financial details were given, but the five-year deal will no doubt further boost the coffers of the world´s richest club by revenue.
The drawing power of Real and Barcelona, who are second in the Deloitte “Rich List” rankings, continues to dwarf that of their La Liga rivals.
The European and Spanish champions, Barca, announced a record five-year shirt sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Investment worth 30 million euros a season a few weeks ago.
On the same day of the plush Emirates presentation, promoted Rayo Vallecano, who are based five kilometres down the road from Real, received some good news as well.
The debt-ridden club had applied to go into administration before winning promotion from the second division, and administrators finally lifted the embargo that had been placed on all transfer dealings.
Rayo, who can now start planning properly for the new campaign, are one of five La Liga sides in administration along with Real Betis, Granada, Racing Santander and Real Zaragoza.
“There is an imbalance between the two clubs (Real and Barca) and the rest,” the president of the Spanish Football Federation Angel Maria Villar told Marca in an interview on Monday.
“We all need to search for formulas to have a more equal league.”
Villar went on say he was very worried by the number of teams going into administration but defended the basic structure of Spanish football as solid.
“There have always been teams who have disappeared or been relegated for not being able to pay,” he added. “It´s true it seems to be happening more now, but this is a consequence of what is happening in our country.”
In terms of results at a national level, Villar has much to be pleased about. Spain added the European Under 19s championship to their bulging trophy cabinet on Monday evening, which goes alongside the European Under 21 trophy and the senior team’s World and European titles.
MALAGA SHEIKH IT UP
Despite Real and Barca´s financial dominance, it is tiny Malaga who have made the biggest waves in the Spanish transfer market so far this summer.
Sheikh Abdullah Bin Nassar Al-Thani, of the Qatari royal family, took control of the south coast side last year and has splashed almost 60 million euros on nine new players since they finished just above the relegation places last season.
Dutch striker Ruud van Nistelrooy, Spain midfielder Santi Cazorla, and France midfielder Jeremy Toulalan are among the lastest recruits, and Fernando Hierro has been brought in as general manager.
The former Real Madrid defender has spent the last four years as sports director to the Spanish national team.
However, Barca´s open pursuit of Cesc Fabregas and Real Madrid´s reported interest in Neymar could yet see them overtaken.
While Middle Eastern money may be coming into Spain, it also helped lure away one of La Liga´s biggest names last week.
Argentina striker Sergio Aguero, having told Atletico Madrid he wanted to leave, signed for Manchester City in a deal reported to be worth around 45 million euros. The FA Cup holders are owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi.
One columnist in Marca bemoaned the loss of another top name to the English Premier League, following in the footsteps of David Silva, David de Gea, Yaya Toure and possibly even Juan Mata in the near future.
“While Real and Barca extend their reach outside our frontiers (Barca are on tour in the USA, and Real in China), the Premier League has been fishing in our disturbed waters,” he wrote.
“It´s a haemorrhage, which if it isn´t cut quickly – it is necessary to have a more equal distribution of television money – will trap the ´League of the Stars´ in a black hole which will be difficult to get out of.”