In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, LaLiga’s India boss Jose Antonio Cachaza talks about 2020, the league’s broadcast schedules and of course Lionel Messi.
New Delhi: FC Barcelona closed the previous La Liga season with losses of 97 million euros. Their biggest rival Real Madrid ended 2019-20 in a deficit of € 106m. Atletico Madrid, third in the Spanish League’s Big Three triumvirate, saw a € 325 million drop from the previous year, with its debt hitting € 999 million. These are staggering numbers, but in a coronavirus season they seem to be taken for granted.
In an exclusive interview with Firstpost, LaLiga’s India boss Jose Antonio Cachaza talks about 2020, the league’s broadcast schedules and of course Lionel Messi .
2020 was, to say the least, an unforgettable year for all sports. Have you counted your losses yet?
I agree that the past year has not been great for any sport. Football action resumed last year, but no fans in the stadiums meant a massive loss of matchday revenue. For larger clubs, the losses were even greater as there were no stadium tours, museum visits or other such activities. The larger clubs lost 3-5 percent over and above the usual loss in turnover on the match day. I’ve read in certain reports that Real Madrid lost € 5-6m every matchday. The situation is not much different with giants like Manchester United and Juventus.
The only silver lining was that we were able to close the season. At one point we weren’t sure if there would be football at all, but we made it and started the next season as well.
LaLiga has a strong control system for financial security, and almost every club in the league was asked to cut costs. There were wage cuts of 30 to 40 percent.
The biggest lesson was to keep the alternative sources of income going. So despite the loss of matchday revenue, we kept 100 percent broadcast revenue and sponsorship.
If you look at the financial situation of La Liga clubs 7-10 years ago, most clubs were in dire straits due to overspending. Thanks to our economic control, things have gradually improved and we can rest assured that most of the clubs were in a healthy financial position at the time of the pandemic. My only advice to clubs is to spend what you have. Don’t go beyond what you have and plan well to cover the losses.
Spain has started rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine but the threat from the new strain of coronavirus is on as before great. In such a scenario, was a decision made to have fans return to the stadiums?
Getting fans back into the stadiums is a big challenge. We’d like to have fans in the stadiums again soon, but it can’t be a unilateral decision. The Spanish health and sports authorities must also be on board. I think the plausible solution would be to get a few thousand fans. Again, everything depends on the development and distribution of the vaccines. It is currently very difficult, if not impossible, to know how many fans will be admitted at what time.
LaLiga’s broadcast contract with Facebook for the Indian subcontinent expires at the end of this season. What’s in stock?
Well we (LaLiga and Facebook) need to start talking. We speak to the market and you will receive news pretty soon. I’m unable to comment right away, but the Indian broadcasting market is about to change drastically as all these OTT players join.
Most broadcasters like Sony and Star have their digital streaming platforms, and regularly new players come onto the market. So broadcasting is entering a new digitally integrated world, and we are aware of it. The success of IPL at Hotstar is a good indicator of the development of the Indian market.
After all, we know that Lionel Messi’s contract with FC Barcelona ends this year. It may be early to tell, but there’s enough history to suggest that he might be on his way out. How will that affect LaLiga when you consider the losses big clubs have suffered over the past season?
Messi’s exit will no doubt be huge. But let’s remember that football is a team sport. Messi’s contract ends this year and I don’t know if he will stay or continue. All in all, we must not forget that by the end of his contract, Messi will be 34 years old and near the end of his career.
As I said, players come and go but clubs stay. A big league depends on three key factors – big players, big clubs, and big competition. When Cristiano Ronaldo left LaLiga, our global broadcast audience and social media continued to grow. You see, maybe the impact was just image, not following. Will Messi’s exit affect LaLiga? Maybe yes, but we’ve signed new contracts since last year, some of which run for five years, and none of those contracts say we won’t be there the day Messi is gone. I can say that for our sponsors too. I am not implying that Messi’s departure will have no impact on LaLiga. Of course it will affect us, but the league will keep growing.
January 06, 2021 8:55:39 PM
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