The president of LaLiga, Javier Tebas (San José, Costa Rica, 1962) analyzes the present and the future of Spanish soccer, especially economically, after the coronavirus crisis. His live talk, recorded last Wednesday at the employer's headquarters and broadcast this Monday, has served to inaugurate another edition of the World Football Summit Live today, which will be held this week with more than 150 speakers and 3,000 attendees.
He said the other day that he will not be able to sleep peacefully until all the competitions are over. Do you see him already on track?
Finish, let's finish. But I am concerned that sprouts can always raise some alarm in a sector that is fully encapsulated. We have our protocols in case of positives. But there is an uncertainty that we do not like. Logistically, we are assuming a responsibility from LaLiga that we have never had at this level because we take care of the trips, that everything is healthily perfect, on the planes, in the hotels … Everything. And coordinating it, with more than 400 charter is one thing that worries.
He has been in LaLiga for more than seven years as president. Is restarting the championship your most important achievement?
No. Going back to something that had to be normal cannot give you satisfaction. The two great achievements are economic control and the centralized sale of audiovisual rights. Without that, this crisis would perhaps have done far more harm.
In the penultimate interview he gave me almost a year ago …
It can't be that long ago …
Yes Yes. And he said then in AS that his work was something like “a service to Spain”. Has this comeback been considered like this?
Yes. We had the health pandemic that is still latent and now we have the economic pandemic. And it was very important that an activity like soccer, which is not only leisure and entertainment but also industry, returned. On this specific issue, the service to Spain that had to be provided from LaLiga for now has been achieved.
What would it have meant to suspend like in France?
Only until June 30, this season they would have lost about 1,000 million. We are not a sector where our profit margin is very high because a large part goes to the players or now to reform the stadiums.
Have even clubs that criticize you like Madrid congratulated you for achieving the return?
Yes, well, if there are critics, there is no problem. On the contrary, when there are no critics, it is when I would worry because something would be hidden … There must always be criticism in aspects of management, some deeper and others less profound. The clubs experienced very high uncertainty in the first weeks and there was a lot of concern and skepticism. When they saw that it had started, they congratulated us.
With the schedules not so much …
Well, there will be more technicians, right? Of the leaders, they have sometimes called me and I have explained why, the circumstances. It is very difficult to try to make our audiovisual value what it is and not to establish that sometimes they rest three days, other four … It is impossible to balance it. If you then refer to the heat schedules, there have only been six or seven games with more than 30 degrees. Three were at 10pm and others at 7:30 pm.
LaLiga, which takes great care of the image, allowed Madrid to go to Valdebebas. Why?
At the time of maximum crisis we had to help all decisions that could lessen the economic damage of the clubs. Going to Valdebebas meant, practically, as Madrid told me, to bring forward the completion of the works that will be worth 500 million a year. Getting the operation of the new stadium forward a year was worth it. In the end, behind closed doors and with virtual reality, Valdebebas is doing very well.
What entertainment industry, as you like to say, awaits after this crisis?
Soccer will return to what it has been when there is a vaccine. It will take, then, maybe another year. But it will come back. There will be no economic feedback in three years. I am convinced that within three seasons, even a little less, we will be in the situation we were in, as long as there is a vaccine and supports the awareness that you can go to the stadiums with peace of mind, to the sports shows. This is not going to change.
During the crisis, LaLiga urged clubs at a very delicate time to apply for ERTEs. How many were there?
12 or 13. Of the 42, some 39, with the ERTE, reached agreements to reduce wages. That has helped. If we can be affected by 460-500 million, the reduction will leave us 200 less.
Many people are shocked that there are clubs that take advantage of an ERTE and then pay millions for signings.
I read it, I hear it, and I don't see it.
By Arthur, 72 …
No, they have exchanged, they say.
Does that wait any longer, barter before signing?
Yes, clearly. If in the previous season there were 3,200 million in transfers in the market of the five big leagues, we will not exceed 700. I hear: “For Lautaro, 80 …”. There is a lot of talk in the media, but between the number of signings there are and what is already paid we have 7,000 million …
I always see him as very critical of what is written or said …
It is a real fact. It would be necessary to be a little more cautious because uncertainty is generated. Even demonstrations like those of Ángel Torres: “It is not possible that those who are going to do ERTE are going to sign.” Hey, I still haven't seen that circumstance. The one who has made an ERTE does not prevent it from being signed. We will not see large transfers in money, over 100 million impossible and over 50 we will count on the fingers of his hands and mine. About 20 and not more.
To avoid possible problems from what the press says, I remember what you said in one of our interviews: “Several clubs intend to be able to go public.” Has that now stopped or is the intention still firm?
We work to get clubs to go public, but obviously when you go to a stock market you have to have a normal market situation. Right now, no company is listed. So far this year it has fallen by 24-70% and has already fallen at the beginning of COVID-19. This is not a good time to go public. A football club to go public will have to wait for us to return to normal. To return to being as before, which will not be on 20-21; It will be more than half of the next.
In the last seven years the income of the clubs has grown year by year. How does LaLiga plan the future so that this reality continues to be maintained?
I am going to affirm, surely some television operators and some telephones will tell me that it is not so, they have always said it for many years and luckily the one that I have guessed right has been me .. The audiovisual value will not be affected Immediately, everyone is that you have to lower the fixed amount of what is being charged. The audiovisual sector itself, the leisure and entertainment sector on television, is one of the sectors that has emerged stronger from this crisis. Especially if we go to Netflix, HBO, these companies have raised a lot of subscribers. What can affect is the money that those who buy have in their pockets. But I don't see that the sector is going to have a condition that could affect us. In order to grow we have to work hard on technology and innovation like no one else does.
How are you tightening up economic control to help clubs in this crisis?
What you have to do is not touch it (laughs). It has been modified, but not to be more lax. The possibility of capital increases will be somewhat modified to pay for the losses that COVID-19 has generated. And an issue so that financial institutions can have more guarantees in football, so that they help, because part of the losses will have to be financed. In Europe, there has been an important debate on the economic control of UEFA, where we have participated, where some big clubs wanted to be more lax, and we and the Bundesliga have maintained that you cannot be more lax, on the contrary: still it has to be more rigorous so that there is not a significant difference between income and expenses.
Is there a club in a very difficult situation?
Not even Malaga?
Málaga is tighter on the issue of treasury, but has put some solutions. For the medium term, it will have to put more solutions. But right now I think not. We have collected almost 100% of the audiovisual rights. That there are clubs that are tighter than others, of course. Let them say that some can disappear in 15 days, none.
Is it going to have to return income of the televisions?
We have 77 contracts but we have to negotiate with 50 operators. We have all argued that we had to liquidate this season 100% and then, on July 19, we will sit down to see damages. Several sponsors, like an operator, have asked us not to decrease the amount they pay, but rather the method of payment. The technological issue is very important to continue leading the industry. In Spain we have put two channels, one virtual, but at the international level there is only one virtual and it works very well.
What do people see more?
The virtual one. In Spain, it depends on the matches, but it is seen six times more in virtual reality than the sound of the stadium. I know that in many places it has generated vertigo. Everything that is new in technology generates vertigo and everyone thinks that someone else will do it first to see if they criticize it. We made the decision, not risky because at the national level we had two channels. But at the international level we did not have two channels and the congratulations we have had have been very important from almost all the operators. I am convinced that there are places that must think that there are people in stadiums.
More news: Mondays. Do you have them for the future?
They are a good day and do not harm amateur football. I hope the issue is resolved. And if not, we will continue with the lawsuit. We believe that we are right. There is an order of the Provincial Court that makes it quite clear and quite well explained, it is true that it is of precautionary measures. But it is a very well motivated car that will mark the future of what Monday and Friday are in professional football in Spain.
The solution is to pay more?
The problem is that they are active in the clubs. You do not pay rent to a third party in your house … In August of last year, all the clubs, the vast majority, practically unanimously, decided that they would go all the way to court until there was a final judgment. You cannot pay a euro for an asset that belongs to the clubs. Our obligation is to manage it as well as possible and on Mondays and Fridays it is such an important asset – that we do not think about it alone, the operators also think about it – that it gives more value to audiovisual rights. In addition, if audiovisual rights are more valuable, the more money the Federation will receive, the more money the CSD will receive for non-sports federations. I will have to remember now -because people forget- that since 2015 the general state budgets, through the CSD to the Spanish federations, except for soccer, are giving 56 million. We 43 million. It is important to think that this industry needs those days to continue giving value and to be able to continue paying these amounts that we pay and if they go better, to pay more.
What grade do you put on the LaLiga health protocol?
A 9 and there are things of 10. We have been asked by all the competitions in the world.
Could it have ended with fans in the stands?
It is not my responsibility. It's complicated. Maybe in some places yes. We have prepared a protocol for the coming season, or for this one if an autonomous community authorizes the club to do so. It is more difficult to catch it there than on the beaches that I see sometimes.
When do you think the fans will be able to return?
It depends on the communities. It is not my obsession. The return will be somewhat annoying. And in percentages of 30% of the stadium capacity. It is the maximum that there will be. It will be annoying because you are going to have to get a previous entry, the guard will tell you where to sit and at what time you have to go. And if you do not go at that time or within five minutes you will not enter. Then in the stadium you will have to wear a mask despite keeping the safety distance, there will be no bars, you will not be able to consume, the way to the bathrooms will be more controlled, the entry and exit as well .. .
Like all crises, opportunities arise. Could this be a good time to cut back on the Premier?
I don't think about it. The Premier is cut back by working hard on technologies, digital environments, club exposure. We have to increase our difference with the Premier. The Premier has, at the level of social networks, ten great teams that exceed 10 million followers in the world; we only have three that exceed them.
Is this crisis damaging or will it benefit the projects of new European leagues?
What this league has taught us, especially UEFA and the strong national leagues, is that together we collectively organize the calendar, together we have to try to ensure that audiovisual rights do not lose value, and we have realized that together they do a lot better things. That UEFA does not have to go on the one hand with the big clubs and that I think has made the projects of the big leagues this has weakened them a lot. But the risk is always going to exist because there are always people who do the numbers at the bar, but when you really have to go with some, they are getting more scared.
Next season will start on 12-S. Do you already know when the calendar will be raffled in Las Rozas?
No. First, the calendar must be drawn in an ordinary general assembly. This is what our statutes say, because the draw is regulated in our statutes, not in that of the Federation. We are going to look at the electoral issue … We have started talking about the calendar with the union, we will have to talk about it also with the Federation because it is an element of coordination. And I hope we have it resolved in early August to do the draw on those dates. We will see if it will be in Las Rozas, in assembly or where it will be.
As the calendar is compressed so much it will be played at Christmas. Will there be a Classic or a derby?
I always like that there are derbies and classics. It doesn't matter to me if it's Christmas. We have not raised it. It is one thing what happens in stadiums and another thing on television. At Christmas there is not much audiovisual consumption.
With the new normality I did not name Rubiales yet. Was Irene Lozano the key to agreeing with him or would it have been done without her too?
More than a new relationship I would like to say that it is different. The fact that we publicly stop being a media talk helps the industry and everyone a lot. That has been good. It is one of the conclusions of the Pact of Viana. There are still problems with competencies and there will be. With the current leadership of the Federation we have a problem of how we culturally understand soccer, professional sports. And on Mondays and Fridays it is what proves it. And the clubs understand that there are a series of assets that must be managed by the clubs through the LaLiga and the Federation understands that this is not the case, that this is all of the Federation and that cultural problem is not solved. What is resolved at best is the constant media environment. Well welcome be that new environment. But that is the new normality that we can say there is.
Did someone tell you in that Viana Pact to stop supporting Casillas to the RFEF?
No. And if they had told me, I wouldn't have accepted. This is a matter of democracy and no one can be prohibited from thinking and supporting someone. And also with a criticism that I have always tried to be constructive.
Give me another note for the VAR.
I give it a 7. There is still a little more to explain, in some cases. There have been not very graceful days, I think, and some technological failure. The other day Atlético de Madrid was 30 minutes without VAR. That's not good.
In the new relationship with the Federation, will it be easier to play in Miami?
I do not think so (laughs) That goes in the cultural theme that I have said before. The current leaders of the Federation do not authorize going to play in Miami because of an issue that they consider to be theirs and that's it, there is no more. Because right now we have seen with all this COVID that integrity in competition sometimes yes, sometimes no. I already said it was a game, that it wasn't all. It will carry its becoming and nothing else. I also want to say, however, that it is not even among my top ten priorities to play a game outside of Spain.
Do you see your Madrid already singing alirón?
Barça theme. Are you more excited if Xavi returns to the bench or Neymar returns to the field?
Let Messi continue at Barça.
Will the LaLiga Cup be given to the champion this season?
We haven't even considered it.
Or does not mean …
No. It is the 180th of my concerns, and I don't get to 30.
I believe you … Thank you and good luck.
No, no luck. Justice.
World Football Summit: luxury guests for a week
More than 150 leaders of the soccer industry will participate from today until Friday in WFS Live, the online event organized by the World Football Summit platform in collaboration with Ronaldo Nazário that will bring together more than 3,000 professionals from different sectors of the sport.
In addition to Javier Tebas, Gianni Infantino, FIFA President; Emilio Butragueño, director of Institutional Relations for Real Madrid; Marta Plana, secretary of the FC Barceona Council; Pierluigi Collina, Director of the FIFA Referees Committee; Jorge Garbajosa, President of the Spanish Basketball Federation, and international soccer legends such as Didier Drogba, Youri Djorkaeff, Kristine Lilly and Juan Sebastián Verón, current President of Estudiantes de La Plata.
The talks will take place between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. and will cover different topics related to current sports and industry, with special attention to the effects of the coronavirus crisis in the different sectors, the challenges it poses and the opportunities that may arise.
In addition, a special meeting will take place on Friday to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Spain's victory in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, which will bring together Fernando Hierro, then sports director of the Spanish Football Federation, Vicente del Bosque, former national coach; Iker Casillas, captain of the champion team; David Villa and Juan Mata. The meeting will take place at 15.05 and can be followed live on As.com.
Tickets for this event are for sale at live.worldfootballsummit.com and give access not only to witness the talks and round tables, but also to interact with the speakers, send questions, participate in workshops, chat with other participants and organize video calls . The benefits of this event will be donated entirely to Common Goal, the platform created by footballer Juan Mata that collaborates with humanitarian organizations around the world, and to Fundação Fenômenos, founded and chaired by Ronaldo Nazário, and will be used to fight the effects of the Covid-19 in vulnerable communities.
The poster for this Monday, July 6:
14.00: Alfredo Matilla (AS) interviews Javier Tebas, president of LaLiga
15.00: Talk on leadership in women's football with Ebru Koksal (Women in Football), Ornella D. Bellia (FIFA) and Magda Pozzo (Udinese Calcio)
16.00: Luis Vicente (Eleven Sports) interviews Sir Martin Sorrell (S4 Capital)
17.00: The Covid-19 crisis in football clubs, with Paul Barber (Brighton & Hove Albion), Emilio Butragueño (Real Madrid), Luigi de Laurentiis (SSC Bari) and Alex Leitao (Orlando City FC).