posted by Guest Writer on 2012-03-27 19:10:00

A look at one of the factors behind the dominance of Real Madrid and Barcelona by guest writer Ian Walsh.

Throughout the football world there are many examples of great football rivalries and possibly with the exception of the explosiveness of the Old Firm rivalry of Celtic and Rangers in Scotland - there is none greater than the one contested between Real Madrid and Barcelona in Spain. Author of Morbo: 'The Story of Spanish Football' Phil Ball refers to the games between Real Madrid and Barcelona as: "a re-enactment of the Spanish Civil War" On the field, El Clásico is a match contested by two of the richest and most successful clubs in world football. Off the field, it is much more than that. It is the tale of two cities, two identities and two opposing political viewpoints.

Between them Real Madrid and Barcelona have amassed 31 and 21 league titles respectively and have won 23 out of the last 28 La Liga titles. The last club to break the duopoly of Real Madrid and Barcelona were Valencia in the 2003-2004 season. The shocking and sad truth is, and Sid Lowe recently alluded to it: "Things change, eras shift, cycles come to a close, but it is hard to imagine any team other than Real Madrid and Barcelona winning the league. Ever again." Such is their dominance in La Liga and with other clubs in great debt, and continuing to sell off their best players, it will essentially be a penalty shootout between Real Madrid and Barcelona each season to see who will win the title.

In the age of the modern media and with the advances in technology of the 21st century, the demand for football, and in particular, the broadcasting of football has seen the beautiful game expand in the past two decades to become the multi-million pound sport is it today. The globalisation of the sale of broadcasting rights has escalated during this time. However, in Spanish football, this has been done very differently than to what is considered common practice across the other European leagues. Unlike the Premier League, Real Madrid and Barcelona have been in the envious position that they can negotiate their own TV rights deal, each earning closer to €150m per season.

Globalisation has ultimately led to Real Madrid and Barcelona dominating La Liga and more recently, European football for the past couple of years. The money clubs make from broadcasting rights is integral to clubs overall revenue stream each year - broadcasting rights have become more important than the amount of income that a particular football club generates through the sale of tickets. And this is the case for Real Madrid and Barcelona. The Money League, by Deloitte has been running for fifteen years now - each year it analysis the various streams of revenue which a club makes. Currently, Real Madrid and Barcelona both sit in 1st (€479.5m) and 2nd (€450.7m) place respectively in the Football Money League, 2012. Real Madrid has now topped this league for seven seasons in a row, but as a result of their recent success both in the domestic league and in Europe, Barcelona has significantly narrowed that gap. In the breakdown of those figures, a salient point to note is that both clubs make the most profit from broadcasting rights - Real Madrid €183.5m (38%) and Barcelona €183.7m (41%) with match-day revenue making up for 26% (€123.6m) and commercial revenue 36% (€172.4m) for Real Madrid and similarly for Barcelona: match-day 25% (€110.7m) and commercial revenue 34% (€156.3m).

In recent years, both clubs have come under fire for their sale of their TV rights. There have been many a call for the collective sale of the broadcasting rights to come in line more with the European leagues. As of 2014, TV rights in Spain will be distributed differently, but it will be a case of the same teams continuing to dominate and make the most money. The so-called big-four - Real Madrid, Barcelona (35%), Valencia and Atletico Madrid (11%) will between them take a cut of 46% of a new €800m deal, with the other 16 teams in La Liga sharing 45%. Fair? Not by a long shot.

As their revenue continues to grow, Real Madrid and Barcelona can carry on snapping up the best players, while other teams in La Liga, continue to falter, rack up enormous debt and be forced to sell their players - to, err, the 'Big Boys' - Real Madrid and Barcelona. While the league title becomes almost a comedy sketch akin to an episode of the Chuckle Brothers: "To me, to you. To me, to you." each season. It is the same old story of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer with this blatant case of inequality.

You can read more of Ian's work at his blog Touchline Views and follow him on Twitter here.


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