Spanish giants Real Madrid have lost their latest court appeal against LaLiga, organizer of the top two domestic soccer leagues, and its president Javier Tebas, over how the first division distributes its television rights, as well as new media access requirements handed down ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Spain’s national criminal court, Audiencia Nacional, yesterday (November 23) rejected the club’s appeal and upheld a decision made in September to dismiss its complaint against the two parties, ending the legal battle.

The order said: “The court agrees with the assessment of the trial court … and the Public Prosecutor’s Office, which opposes the appeal, regarding the criminal atypical nature of the facts and conduct described by the complainant.”

At the time of the original decision, the investigating judge reproached Real Madrid for trying to build “a conspiratorial version against its interests” after claiming LaLiga’s changes were made to “financially harm Real Madrid.”

The club and LaLiga have been at loggerheads since LaLiga announced changes to how LaLiga distributes television revenue between LaLiga clubs and increased media access for broadcasters as part of its title partnership with video game developer EA Sports for the 2023-24 season.

Specifically, Madrid strongly opposed LaLiga’s mandate to install cameras inside all dressing rooms and during team huddles on the pitch, as well as making coaches and players available to operators for pre-and post-game interviews and introducing microphones during hydration breaks in a move designed to provide fans with unprecedented behind-the-scenes access.

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By GlobalData

They also opposed changes made to how the distribution of broadcasting rights – 25% of the total pie – will be carried out among clubs. Traditionally, the redistribution was split based on the “social implementation” of each club, which considers television audiences generated, giving Real Madrid and rivals Barcelona a bigger slice.

However, as part of the changes, 25% will be distributed according to how much access clubs give to LaLiga’s new behind-the-scenes initiative. As a protest, Real Madrid have stopped granting pre-and post-match interviews with their players and coaching staff to LaLiga’s broadcast partners.

The club said the requirements were detrimental to their interests and potentially threatened €13 million in revenue generated through the partnership with EA Sports.

Real Madrid eventually submitted a formal legal complaint to the Audencia Nacional in September, alleging LaLiga’s actions constituted “fraudulent” and “arbitrary” disposal of their rights, which targeted them economically.

They also said LaLiga’s decisions were driven by Tebas’ hostility towards the club, stemming from the side's opposition to the Liga Impulso project and previous support of the failed European Super League project.

However, in September Judge Luis Calama ruled that Real Madrid’s complaint did not align with the criminal code and he dismissed the club’s allegations of “unfair administration, misappropriation, corruption in business, and the crime of imposition of abusive agreements.”

Despite the setback, it is unclear whether Real Madrid will comply with the new media access requirements or explore other avenues to protect their assets.