I have been saying for a long time that Spanish football needs a major overhaul. If you read my previous article about TV rights in Spain, you will know that the “big” two, Real Madrid and Barcelona, take most of the TV revenue (300 million between the two of them) – leaving the rest of the clubs in La Liga with the crumbs to squabble over. Meanwhile,the lower divisions in Spain are in financial turmoil, with no help from La Liga, and a league structure that makes no sense whatsoever.
Well, the latest example of just how badly Spanish football is run has been demonstrated by the organization of the forthcoming 2011/12 Spanish Cup final. I say organisation, when I should probably be saying lack of organisation.
We have the final. Barcelona (who else) versus…wait for it…not Real Madrid (they were eliminated by Bracelona) but Athletic Club Bilbao. Without doubt, a great final. Marcelo Bielsa has turned Athletic Club into a team to be reckoned with and considering they are improving as the season progresses, they could well give Barcelona a fight.
So, no problems with the two finalists, and the final is looking to be a fantastic game of football, so what else could go wrong?
Well, one very small detail – the venue!!!
Can you believe that the Spanish Federation do not have a venue? Well, they haven’t!!!
Unfortunately, Spain has no “neutral” national Stadium, like Wembley, for example. However, when Wembley was being refurbished, the English F.A. named the venue at the beginning of the season with a substitute stadium in the event the home team reached the final, i.e. Man United reached the final and Old Trafford was the original venue, which was subsequently changed to Villa Park so ManU did not have home advantage – but this was clearly specified before the competition began, to avoid the very problems the Spanish Federation now have.
Both clubs would like the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium in Madrid, however, Real Madrid don’t want their arch rivals Barcelona winning a trophy in their own back yard! Real Madrid has also reminded Barcelona that in 2004 Barcelona refused to allow Real Madrid to play the final at their Camp Nou.
Also, the option of Barcelona’s Nou Camp (which has been considered) isn’t a fair option as it would give the Catalans home advantage over the Basques.
So, the two other options seem to be Mestalla in Valencia or the Romaneda in Zaragoza. Both are much smaller stadiums and mean less revenue for both clubs. Hiowever, the situation is so desperate that even Wembley Stadium in London has been suggested as a possible venue!!
Geographically the most sensible option is the Romaneda, as Zaragoza is about half way between both cities and has excellent motorway connections. It would also mean leaving less of a carbon footprint, as it saves over 40,000 people covering double the kilometers to say Valencia.
How simple would it have been to declare the Santiago Bernabeu venue for the final in August before the competition began, like any other “normal” football association?
Then absolutely no one could have complained…
Clive Jagger – Spain Football