LaLiga not to be played at neutral venues; eyes on June resumption, says India head Jose Antonio Cachaza

LaLiga India head Jose Antonio Cachaza talks about the challenges ahead for the Spanish league as clubs return to training.

Tanuj Lakhina May 09, 2020 09:21:24 IST
LaLiga not to be played at neutral venues; eyes on June resumption, says India head Jose Antonio Cachaza

Players in Spain returned to the training fields for the first time in two months this week. After the mandatory testing of players, coaches and training staff, some clubs hit the ground running. Maybe not in the way they would in normal circumstances, but the situation looks far better than what it did a few weeks ago. The league, still, doesn't want to run into making any rushed announcements - especially about the resumption date.

Leganes manager Javier Aguirre let slip that the league would resume on 20 June and end on 26 July. The dates, or at least the range, were more or less confirmed by LaLiga India managing director Jose Antonio Cachaza.

LaLiga not to be played at neutral venues eyes on June resumption says India head Jose Antonio Cachaza

Lionel Messi trains in Barcelona after lockdown was lifted in Spain. FC Barcelona via AP

"This week is about preparing the grounds and testing. Next week will be individual training. The week after will be small group training, after that half squad practice, then full squad at the start of June. We cannot say exactly when the league can come back. We're working on finding the right dates but it will depend on how things evolve. It all depends on the official green light from the government but if all goes well, second or third week of June," he said in a conversation from Spain.

"June, July for (domestic) leagues after agreement with UEFA and European Leagues (EL). We've worked out four or five alternative calendars which we can only be confident about when we know the restart date(s). The next season cannot start in August because that is reserved for the European competitions. Champions League final is scheduled for 29 August and Europa League two-three days before it," he added on the scenario for the next few months. He, thus, ruled out the possibility of the 2020-21 season resuming by the traditional window.

LaLiga aspires to become the second top European league to return to the stadiums after Bundesliga was given the go ahead to restart on 16 May. Italy's Serie A and England's Premier League wish to get back as well unlike decisions in Netherlands and France to cancel the season. The entire football calendar has been significantly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed over 2,70,000 lives including 26,000-plus in Spain.

Premier League clubs have been embroiled in debate on playing at neutral venues, a suggestion that is not being considered in Spain. Cachaza stated that barring Real Madrid, other clubs would play at their original stadiums. "We can't follow Premier League route when we're ahead of them. But every country has to follow their own rules, every country's situation is different. In a sense, who has set us behind is Bundesliga. They're going to be able to start in two weeks so we'll be following them."

"We're starting the training process but there's no plan to play in neutral venues. Each team will play in their own stadiums behind closed doors. The only differing situation is with Real Madrid. They're under a renovation plan of the Bernabeu stadium so they've asked permission to play home matches at their 12,000 seater training ground (Alfredo di Stefano stadium)," said Cachaza.

LaLiga not to be played at neutral venues eyes on June resumption says India head Jose Antonio Cachaza

Atletico Madrid play their home games at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid, Spain. AP

The league disruption across Europe has taken a toll on clubs financially with many on the brink of bankruptcy. The impact in Spain, as per Cachaza, hasn't been as dire. He credits the relatively positive situation on the implementation of stricter financial control rules introduced in Spain a few years ago. In fact, he says the league is making a bigger contribution towards non professional football and other sports despite the pandemic.

"LaLiga has increased its share towards non professional football and towards other sports through Ministry of Sport. But it all entirely depends on if we can finish this season. The clubs will lose money from matchday revenues and other indirect sources such as stadium tours. As far as LaLiga clubs are concerned, we're in the best situation possible bearing in mind the disaster we're facing. Over the last five years, the clubs' debts have reduced and they're in a better situation to face the crisis. It's not that the clubs won't suffer but we're under better control. If this had happened seven-eight years ago, the situation would have been dramatic for half of the clubs. I think it is the time for us to fight to recover our lives back."

"The sale of LaLiga broadcast rights are controlled by a government law. That government law, which came into being in 2015, says 1% of revenue will go to non professional football and 0.5% to other sports. We have now agreed to make it 2% for grassroots football and 1.5% for other sports. In terms of monies, LaLiga will be supporting 200 million euros towards both for the next four years," he concluded.

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