Government mulls plight of debt-mired soccer clubs

La Liga teams owe 752 million euros to tax office

It has emerged that the government’s CSD sports council is considering various options to stem the financial bleeding of Spanish soccer, in the same week that a ministerial answer to a parliamentary question showed that the total amount owed by clubs to the tax office has reached 752 million euros. Most of the Liga tax debt, 490 million, corresponds to First Division teams.

But neither of two longstanding demands on the part of clubs to boost their revenues — the ditching of one league game per weekend shown on free-to-air television and an increased stake in La Quiniela state-run soccer gambling — are among the possibilities on the table. The idea of a pardoning the tax debt, to be added to the smaller figure of 10.6 million euros in Social Security payments, is also a non-starter for a government that must cut some 35 billion euros of public spending this year.

The government is investigating more imaginative managerial options, alongside the LFP Liga authority and with the backing of the main opposition Socialist party, which on Wednesday presented a proposal in Congress demanding greater financial control over clubs that continue to spend money signing new players even when in debt. Since 2004 22 clubs have entered bankruptcy proceedings.

The bad news about Spanish soccer could even end up affecting income from the sale of TV rights, which bring in 600 million euros each year. Medium-sized clubs have complained of unfair distribution, with Real Madrid and Barcelona keeping the lion’s share.

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