Spanish soccer’s LaLiga has defiantly stated it will not be changing the format of any of its competitions despite Luis Rubiales, president of the RFEF, the national federation, seeking discussions on the matter.
In a press conference today, Rubiales said he intends to hold discussions with LaLiga president Javier Tebas to propose some changes to domestic soccer.
Notably, the RFEF head wants fewer games to free up more space in the calendar, and is open to the idea of playing matches abroad.
Rubiales said: "You have to ask for respect. Tebas and I aren't going to think the same. Of course, I'm open to looking at some agreements for football. In the coming days, I'm going to ask Tebas to change the format of LaLiga. We've changed the format of many competitions.
"We are in a place where we can present a different format, more attractive, with fewer games and more free weeks in the calendar. Neutral venues, fewer matchdays… and of course we can look at playing a game abroad."
Rubiales and Tebas have been at loggerheads over several issues in recent years and LaLiga quickly released a statement in response to the RFEF president’s comments.
The Spanish top flight said it “will not consider a change in the format of any of its competitions. The current model, the structure, the days of competition, the schedules, have been a success in recent years.”
Rubiales floated the idea of an alteration to the LaLiga format back in February, which was also immediately dismissed by Tebas.
LaLiga has pointed to several achievements as reasons why the competition format should not change, including the growth of its audiovisual rights domestically and internationally, including the recent agreement in the US with major broadcaster ESPN, a 20 per cent increase in stadium attendances, and recent financial results in which the Spanish top-tier secured a positive net result in the 2019-20 season despite the Covid-19 pandemic.
The statement added: “Therefore, any modification of the current format, or to even consider modification, would be irresponsible. Such action would generate uncertainty not just within LaLiga but in other sports and non-professional football, to which LaLiga contributes €125 million ($148 million) every season.
“LaLiga is willing to have a dialogue with the RFEF on various issues to improve football, such as the improvement of VAR, which we already proposed days ago, the coordination with the new RFEF first division (third tier), or defining a common strategy against the European Super League.”
LaLiga and the RFEF have been involved in a power struggle across a wide range of issues, and the league recently won a protracted legal case against the national federation to schedule weekly matches on Monday and Friday nights moving forward.
The Spanish league has a long-held ambition to stage regular season games overseas although plans for such matches in the USA have to date been scuppered by opposition from the RFEF and soccer's international governing bodies.