Javier Tebas says it has “hurt” LaLiga to lose Lionel Messi but pinned the blame at the door of Barcelona for refusing to accept a contentious financial arrangement.
LaLiga has struck a €2.7billion (£2.3bn) deal with CVC Capital Partners, one that will see the private equity firm acquire 10 per cent of the commercial business.
In turn, the other 90 per cent of the investment would be used to help cash-strapped clubs across the top two tiers of Spanish football as they cope with the long-term financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Both Madrid and Barca have spoken out against the proposal, while on Wednesday the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) insisted it was “totally illegal.”
Madrid and Barca allege the agreement includes all clubs’ audiovisual rights for the next 50 years, with Los Blancos taking legal action as they were not properly consulted.
However, the deal will go ahead as planned after a general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favour on Thursday, though Barca and Madrid are two of the four clubs to have opted out of the agreement.
— Real Madrid C.F. (@realmadriden) August 10, 2021
Speaking after the proposal was passed, LaLiga president Tebas was adamant Barca could well have kept hold of Messi – who has now joined Paris Saint-Germain as a free agent – had they signed up.
“I don’t know exactly what Barca are doing to lower their wage-bill — with the CVC money they would have had around €40m more,” Tebas said.
“It could have been for Messi, or others, to make a more competitive squad. We are hurt by Messi leaving, for sure, but there is no clause in any TV deal which sees us get less money without Messi, although it could hurt companies who are looking to add subscribers and fans of the biggest clubs.
“In LaLiga we’ve always wanted to have the best players but then Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar left and Messi has now left.
“I’d say it’s probably been quite traumatic because for a whole month the president of Barcelona kept saying everything was going well and all of a sudden, one afternoon, the whole transaction went down.
“So it’s a real shame that Messi has left but we’ve worked a lot to ensure our value in broadcasting rights doesn’t go down.
“I’m convinced that the fans of Barcelona in Spain will still watch Barcelona as well whether or not Messi is playing for them.
“We signed recently an eight-year contract with ESPN and there was no clause that obliged us to have Messi playing for our league. Who knows in eight years’ time who is playing in the Spanish league. They’re important, the players, and they help, but they’re not essential.”
Tebas also hit out at Madrid and Barca for “hampering” the process, suggesting the two giants of Spanish football are instead invested in developing a European Super League.
“Everything that LaLiga do, Real and Barcelona try to block it,” Tebas said, as reported via The Athletic. “But we keep growing anyway, and it will continue to grow whether all clubs agree to this deal or not.
“Real and Barca do not want the national leagues to develop and grow stronger. That would not benefit their Super League project. They want most of the money to flow to them.
“Real Madrid have been for eight years hampering our attempts to grow LaLiga’s TV revenues, [former Barcelona president Josep Maria] Bartomeu was with them in that too.”
According to Tebas, CVC are investing to develop the league, rather than salvage the finances of Spanish clubs.
“CVC were interested because of how we have developed, without help from Madrid or Barca. CVC have not come here to bail us out — they are not here because of the pandemic,” he said.
“Only 15 per cent of the money can be used to pay off debts, 70 per cent is for investment in infrastructure. So they are not here to bail out Spanish football, but to help build a stronger league.”