Thursday, June 1, 2023

The arbitration bill that disappoints LaLiga clubs: 34.9 million euros per season

The new spanish soccer war has already started. And it has to do, curiously now that the Negreira case, with the referees. The difference with other battles is that, in this one, it is easy to guess the outcome. Because the claim of Javier Tebas and the majority of LaLiga clubs that the arbitration body leaves the organic umbrella of the RFEF it collides head-on with the Spanish Sports Law and with the FIFA Statutes. It is not that these rules prevent arbitrators from managing through a “commercial society” independent, as Thebes claimed on Thursday, but they establish that they can only do so if the federation on duty authorizes it. And that’s something that Luis Rubiales is not going to do. No kidding. In full right of it is.

Everything starts, they say in LaLiga, from a widespread and growing discontent of the clubs, who consider that the service they receive from the Technical Committee of Referees, an organization that depends on the RFEF, is not good enough. In fact, in the assembly on Thursday, the clubs were asked, anonymously, if they considered that said service was in line with the bill they pay. And 71% of them, around 30, considered that they were not.

The cost of arbitration

During his presentation, the president of LaLiga showed the representatives of the 42 clubs the cost that the service provided by the Technical Committee of Referees has for the competition as a whole. According to the data presented by Thebes, and to which he has had access THE SPANISH NEWSPAPERfrom the Prensa Ibérica group, the arbitration bill for the 2022/23 season, combining First and Second, rises to €34,913,478. That is, rounding, almost 35 million.

This amount is broken down into several sections. The referees and assistants receive a total of 21.73 million, 62% of the total. LaLiga is also in charge of their contributions to the Social Security, whose amount rises to 2.38 million. The other large item derived from the merely arbitration activity during the matches is that of the travel expenses of the referees, for which the CTA invoices 4.1 million this season.

In addition, LaLiga assumes the costs of VAR, whose amount is 5.67 million, and makes other payments of less than one million euros for other items: 698,812 euros for courses, seminars and training; 113,628 euros to finance the structure of the CTA; and 170,442 euros for working capital.

The salary of the referees

Tebas also showed the clubs the breakdown of the amounts received by Primera referees compared to those of the other four major European leagues. According to the information shown in the assembly, A Spanish referee charges 167,904 euros a year as a fixed salaryto which we must add payments per game: 4,830 for the pitch referee, 2,415 for the VAR and 1,065 for the AVAR.

The total account that LaLiga does is each Spanish referee pockets, on average, 264,504 euros per year for his work on the field, without adding his performances as VAR, which are highly variable depending on the category and experience of each one of them. A bill that is much higher than the one that, always according to the information shown in the extraordinary assembly on Thursday, they charge in other competitions.

In England, Italy and Germany not all earn the same, there are salary scales depending on their seniority or if they have a FIFA badge. Taking the upper scale as a reference in all cases, the data handled by LaLiga is that a Premier referee pockets 159,708 euros a year; one of the Series A 170,000; and one from the Bundesliga, 194,000. Those of the French Ligue 1 charge 142,208.

The amounts of the Spanish competition are derived from the ‘Agreement on professional arbitration’ signed by LaLiga and the RFEF, by Tebas and by Rubiales, in 2018 and whose validity extends until the end of this season. An agreement whose content is not public “because it is subject to a confidentiality clause”, as reflected on the employer’s website.

The referees statement

Said agreement must be renewed this summer and a fuss is coming about it. Thebes denied on Thursday that a desire to lower the bill or the salary of the referees is on the table and this is also confirmed, without exception, by the clubs consulted by this newspaper. As they also ensure that there is no campaign orchestrated by LaLiga to discredit or raise the tension with the referees. But the RFEF believes so and so do the referees who supported (without specific signatures) last Wednesday a statement denouncing “a perfectly measured and organized campaign”.

At the beginning of the week there was even speculation about the possibility that the referees would go on strike, Fed up with the statements and statements that the clubs have recently released about their performances, as well as those of LaLiga. In this sense, they censored a video of Luis Gil, director of competitions for the employer, for “point out and ridicule the arbitration actionsis one more example of La Liga’s interest in generating an unbreathable climate towards our collective, casting doubt on our decisions and undermining arbitration professionalism”.

The club survey

“LaLiga has no interest in controlling the referees,” Tebas insisted on Thursday, once again advocating for a model like the British or German, although in the latter the German federation continues to hold the majority of control (51%). “We do not want to pay less, it seems good to us that Spanish referees are the best paid, but they are necessary service improvements, designations need to be more transparent and errors need to decrease, that’s what the VAR is for. And this reading is very generalized”, summarized in a First Division club.

According to the data published by LaLiga this Friday88% of the clubs support establishing an arbitration model like that of the Premier or the Bundesliga and 61% of them believe that AFE, the majority union, should have a presence in decision-making.

There was no question about whether the money paid is excessive. It is not questioned, they all say. They just want better service than they say they get. The war has only just begun.


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