Some weeks ago it was published in Knowthing an article about the soccer bubble in Spain. At the end of such article we suggested some ideas to get out the current critical situation. This time we want to describe possible future scenarios of the Liga. In my opinion, the Liga has 2 possible way outs:
1) Try to apply a similar model to the one of Bundesliga
In 2022, in Germany it occurred something quite similar to the current situation in Spain: the main TV operator (Kirch-Media) went to bankruptcy and many football clubs followed this way. To amend the situation, the Bundesliga took some measures:
– Very substantial restructuring and budget cutting actions, in order to rationalize the size of the clubs.
– Prevent that any shareholder can have more than 50% stake of the club. Except from limited exceptions, big investors have not proved to give consistency and stability to clubs, because they usually have a short term vision of the club. Indeed, in Germany if the investor maintains the shares for more than 20 years they can have more than 50%. It is the case of Bayer with Leverkusen or Volkswagen with Wolsburg.
– The fan is the center of the game: affordable match tickets. The average ticket price is €20. Thanks to this measure, the highest attendance of Europe is registered in Germany (90%). This does not mean that the match day revenues increase, but the environment in the arenas is very good and this attracts passion to the game and more sponsors.
– Competitiveness: in Germany in the last 10 years there have been 5 different League champions: Werder Bremen, Wolfsburg, Stuttgart, Bayern and Borussia Dortmund. In this sense the distribution of the audiovisual rights gains a fundamental role, as it is much more balanced than in Spain.
– Diversify revenues in order to reduce the dependence in the TV rights. The current distribution is sponsorships 26%, audiovisual rights 26,2% and match day tickets 21,1%. The rest is player transfers (10%), merchandasing (4,5%) and other revenues (11,4%). Diversifying revenues is always a guarantee to reduce risks.
– Strong investment in the youth academies: from 2007 to 2012 the money invested in youth academies has rised from 48 to 70 million.
The result of all this model is that in the last season 14 out of 18 teams of the Bundesliga have declared profits, and Bayern and Borussia Dormund have played the Finale of the Uefa Champions League.
If this model is the one to be applied in the Spanish League, the first step is change de audiovisual rights distribution, because if FC Barcelona and Real Madrid receive €100 million more than the third one, the differences will become bigger and bigger.
2) To implement a Europe Super League
Some of the most powerful clubs in Europe have had this idea in their minds for a long time. Basically it should be organizing a “longer” Champions League, so during all the year the strongest teams in Europe would play against each other. For the moment there have not reach valuable agreements in this sense. The advantage of this kind of competition would be that it would be a very attractive product for the fans and therefore the potential revenues are considerable. The disadvantage is that the national Leagues would lose much interest, which would not be accepted by many fans and by the national federations. I think it would be easier if it is organized together with UEFA.
Rupert Murdoch wants to make a first step in this direction. He plans to create a summer competition, which would be played in different cities of the world. This project brings up many questions, and the first and clearest one is that the schedule of football players is already tight, so I guess it would mean for the teams to skip some other competitions.
Once seen both possible scenarios to get away of the current critical situation, there is a third way, which is doing nothing. If no decisions are taken and therefore everything keeps the same, the trend will be a League like the ones of the last 5 years, where almost 36 match days are trivial and the title is almost only disputed in the matches FC Barcelona – Real Madrid.
My opinion is that in the short term this will be the trend, because as we were telling in the previous article, the vast majority of Spanish clubs are in a delicate financial situation and therefore they have to carry out shock therapies, in which they have to sell their best players/assets. For example, this summer Falcao (Atlético), Llorente (Athletic), or Navas (Sevilla) are leaving the Liga, while FC Barcelona and Real Madrid have hired Neymar and Isco respectively, and this last one coming from Málaga. Therefore, distances are becoming larger and larger.
The question is if in the mid and the long term this will be the trend. Nobody knows the future, but what is sure is that nobody is interested in this kind of competition, nor the powerful clubs, nor the rest, because if there is no competitiveness the potential audience of Asia and USA will not feel attracted to it.
On a separate note, in my opinion the project of creating a European Super League and to delete the national leagues is too complex, as I cannot imagine teams like Manchester Utd, Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal or Tottenham leaving the Premiership, for example. It is something else is if the Champions League increases the number of teams and matches.