Spanish football authorities on Friday demanded the government enforce centralised bidding for broadcast rights for first and second division matches to defend smaller clubs against their richer top-league rivals.

To stop the top two Spanish clubs, Real Madrid and Barcelona, sucking in all the money from broadcasting contracts, they want broadcasters to be obliged to bid collectively rather than striking deals with each club individually.

A joint commission of Spain’s Professional FootballLeague and the Royal Football Federation called in a statement for “a model for the centralised sale and fair distribution of broadcast rights of the Liga and second division, and solidarity with amateur football“.

It called on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s conservative government to approve legislation to that effect “urgently”.

European leagues were alarmed last month when a bidding war for rights to English Premier League matches drove up the price by 70 percent, with two broadcasters paying the equivalent of 7.0 billion euros ($7.7 billion) between them.

Leagues in other European countries fear that a disproportionate flow of cash to the Premier will lead to the best players from their clubs abandoning them for England.

“We trust that Spanish government leaders will be able to realise that this is very important so that Spanish football can continue being competitive,” said the president of Spain’s Professional Football League, Javier Tebas, on Thursday.

Spanish clubs currently negotiate the rights to their matches individually with broadcasters, giving an advantage to Real Madrid and Barcelona, the two most successful Spanish sides and the best-known worldwide.

Barcelona for example last month sold the broadcast rights to its matches next season to Spanish company Telefonica for 140 million euros, according to media reports.

The commission wants clubs to be obliged to cede the rights to the League for it to negotiate with broadcasters on their behalf. – Agence France-Presse

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