A Small, Important Victory

via Marca

Earlier this week we covered the basics of the strike that threatened to suspend games this weekend and why Del Nido and co. were opposed to it. Well, this morning in Madrid Judge Pujol decided in favor of Sevilla and the rebel clubs: there WILL be games this weekend, the strike is cancelled, and the fight about free-to-air games will have to be fought some other time. I just woke up, and I’m still a bit groggy, but as far as I can tell in everything I’ve read no report, nor any commentary on the matter, nor any comment the judge made in her ruling, explicitly states how this will impact the larger TV revenue debate, other than that losing this little battle today probably would have been a big blow to the rebel faction, and winning likely signals that there will be much more fighting regarding the revenue–Del Nido has already indicated that he intends to take that matter to the courts as well if an agreement isn’t reached beforehand.

[This basically level-headed post is about to get a little ranty, and a little long, so let’s break it up a little.]

But it does seem like a big deal all the same–these six smaller clubs stood up to the LFP and the big two, in whose pockets the LFP takes up residence, and prevented them from just steamrolling through whatever changes they deemed necessary or desirous. Now Rosell and Pérez, when they have their weekly brunch and back massage meetings to decide how to pretend to hate each other while working together to bleed the league dry, will have to take the Rebel 6 (hang on, I’m still trying to figure out the best nickname–feel free to offer yours in the comments) more seriously in the long-term.

Meanwhile, for an interesting contrast of courage vs. cowardice, consider Atlético president Enrique Cerezo, who said after the ruling that he was glad the judge decided against the strike. I remind you that his club voted with the majority in favor of the strike, but here he is saying he’s glad it didn’t happen, and that he “had a feeling that the week would be played”, and further: “imagine what would have happened [if there was a strike]”. Wow. Imagine! If the thing you voted for, KNOWING IT WOULD BE BAD, had actually happened! It’s almost as if certain clubs (cough Atletico, Valencia) are beholden to the wishes of the big two because they are being given legacy-based, permanent, favorable shares of the revenue deal. Or maybe certain other clubs are just afraid of what might happen if they oppose Rosell and Pérez. If you think the majority of clubs in La Liga actually want the new TV revenue deal, look no further than this spineless leadership to understand why so many clubs are actively supporting a deal that ensures the continued subsidized dominance of two teams, and the ongoing frustration and failure of the rest. Del Nido’s no hero in many respects (see below), but in an era when the winners and losers are increasingly being decided off the field in executive board rooms, we are seeing most teams’ true colors: Real Madrid and Barcelona just don’t want to compete; they prefer to play a league they are guaranteed to win, and they actively resist giving other teams a fair chance. Atlético and Valencia, similarly, would prefer to give up on actually winning the league if it means they get a head start over the rest of the pack for third place and CL money. Meanwhile, Del Nido, Roig, and the other four are the only brave teams actually willing to play on a level field. I don’t know how fans of the other teams aren’t ashamed of their clubs, but at any rate I’ll always be proud of Sevilla for having the cojones to actually play the games.

Finally, while I think it’s nice to imagine Del Nido as champion of the people, fighting against a strike to ensure games go on, and fighting against the whole league’s attempt to end free-t0-air games, it’s important to remember that he’s already stated that he’s in favor of making everyone pay for the games, he just wants a bigger piece of that pie. I’m sure if it comes down to it, Del Nido won’t hesitate to threaten a strike next year if that’s what he feels is necessary to get a more just TV revenue deal. So even the “good guys” aren’t really fighting for the fans in this one, unless you count Judge Pujol. Everyone just wants to get paid, it seems.