Saturday, 20 August 2011

Strike forces cancellation of opening fixtures

A meeting between the Association for Spanish footballers (AFE) and the league (LFP) today reached no agreement on the players’ strike planned for the first two rounds of La Liga fixtures. As a result this weekend’s games will definitely not go ahead, whilst discussions will continue next week to try and salvage next weekend’s games.

The AFE announced their intention on strike on August 11 after a number of Spanish clubs failed to pay their players last season. According to José Luis Rubiales, President of the AFE, the amount of unpaid wages to players totalled €50m last season.

Rubiales wants the league to supply a find which will guarantee all unpaid players’ wages, however as of yet the LFP have only agreed to a fund in the region of €10m.

Part of the problem is seen as the lack of a sporting sanction for clubs who seek the protection of voluntary administration. Twenty-two clubs in Spain’s first two divisions have passed through administration of the past few seasons and four (Real Zaragoza, Racing Santander, Rayo Vallecano and Real Betis) will start this season in the Primera whilst in administration.

The most ludicrous example of the failings in the system is that of Zaragoza who failed to pay their players and other clubs for transfer fees last season and shortly after securing Primera Liga status on the final day of the season protected themselves by going into administration. That meant they couldn’t be docked points or relegated for not paying players wages, they didn’t have to pay other creditors to the club such as local businesses either and (here comes the most infuriating part) were still allowed to sign other players over the summer, bringing in five players whilst wages and fees are still owed to players and clubs.

Talks regarding a resolution will continue tomorrow however with many players signalling that the strike could be extended if no solution is found it appears that finally the financial mismanagement of so many clubs in Spain is coming home to roost.

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