La Liga has started in somewhat unusual fashion this season, with newly promoted Betis leading the table and Barcelona and Real Madrid having both dropped points on two occasions each. But any illusion that the league will be competitive at the top is just that: an illusion. It’s not a matter of if, but of when Barcelona and Real Madrid will open up a big gap to all the remaining competitors. The difference between the big two and the rest is so huge that there’s virtually no chance of anyone else even coming close to winning the league.
Spanish football is at its peak, with Barcelona widely recognized as the greatest club side of this generation and the Spanish national team having unprecedented success. But the Spanish League is in crisis, a very deep crisis that, in all likelihood, will not end soon. The recent strike was only further proof of the horrible state of the league, with a lot of teams unable to even pay their players. Almost half of La Liga and Liga Adelante clubs are currently in administration.
The current TV deal has simply destroyed any semblance of competition in La Liga. With Barcelona and Real getting 150 million per year, and the other teams getting 30-40 million, a balanced competition is impossible. With each passing year, the gap between the big two and the rest only increases even more. The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. It’s impossible to conceive any team other than Barcelona and Real Madrid even challenging for the title in the next decade (probably even longer).
Last season, Barcelona scored five or more goals on five occasions, while Real Madrid did it on six. This season, with only five matches played, Barcelona have already done it three times, and Real Madrid twice. Things will get easier and easier for the big two, with all the other clubs struggling to even survive financially.
La Liga is in crisis and Barcelona and Real Madrid’s greed is entirely to blame. Their unwillingness to accept a fairer revenue sharing is destroying the Spanish League. They ensure that they will remain the best sides in the world for many years, but at the expense of everyone else in their league. Sevilla’s president Del Nido has been actively trying to create a more equal system, but the bottom 18 (that’s what they are) have failed to unite and oppose the big two. The fact that the situation isn’t likely to change spells big trouble for Spanish football.
At some point, people will get bored of seeing Barcelona and Real Madrid steamrolling their opponents every week. La Liga has been losing viewers every year, a trend that seems likely to continue. Some presidents from other clubs have threatened to start fielding the B team against Barcelona and Real Madrid and some managers rested their starters against the big two last season. At some point, other clubs might very well just give up against the big two as a form of protest. That danger is very real.
La Liga’s future is in danger, and that includes Barcelona and Real Madrid. These are two of the world’s biggest clubs, but they do not exist in isolation. If La Liga implodes financially, Barcelona and Real Madrid will be the first to feel the consequences. They will still have the world’s best players, but they might not have a league to compete in, not to mention they’ll lose their main revenue source.
With the other clubs unable to organize a resistance, it’s up to Barcelona and Real Madrid to take the high road and accept a more even revenue distribution. Will that happen? Of course not, unfortunately. The never-ending greed of these two clubs will never allow that. With Barcelona’s famed academy having raised a crop of unprecedented talent, Real Madrid need the money more than ever in order to compete through the transfer market, while Barcelona will also want to keep acquiring the best outside talent in order to hold off their rivals. Both clubs are obsessed with winning trophies and both are obsessed with beating each other; none of them will stop to consider the state of the league, and the Spanish federation won’t do anything to stop their two biggest and most lucrative clubs. Bar a miracle, the landscape of the Spanish league will remain the same for the foreseeable future, much to the dismay of La Liga fans.
There are some great teams, and good football is being played in La Liga, but it’s easy to overlook that when there’s such a blatant disparity at the top. Barcelona and Real Madrid are at the top of their powers, at the expense of everyone else. This situation is just unsustainable in the long run; the league will eventually fall into complete mediocrity or simply go broke.
La Liga’s future definitely looks very bleak. For now, many enjoy watching the two strongest squads in the world showcasing their skills on a weekly basis and the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo breaking scoring records every year. But that will become boring at some point and La Liga will keep losing more and more viewers.
The future of La Liga as a competitive and financially healthy competition is in grave danger. Either Barcelona and Real Madrid let go of their greed or they’ll keep taking the entire league down with them. The duopoly has always been there; Barcelona and Real Madrid have won 51 of the 80 La Liga editions. But still, 29 leagues were won by other clubs. The current TV deal ensures that such thing won’t happen for a very long time. The problem isn’t that Barcelona and Real Madrid are dominant, it’s always been that way, it’s that the other clubs don’t even have a fighting chance. Two clubs do not make a league. Barcelona and Real Madrid’s obsession with beating each other will eventually ruin La Liga and Spanish football as a whole, unless they’re stopped, and fast.