With strike called off, Barca can clinch title

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With strike called off, Barca can clinch title

League petition upheld; La Liga ties to go ahead on Sunday

By (Agencies)

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Published: Sat 16 May 2015, 1:53 AM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:09 PM

Madrid — A Spanish court on Thursday suspended a planned strike by star footballers in protest against a new TV rights law, meaning Barcelona could seal the La Liga title this weekend. The National Court said in its ruling that allowing the strike to go ahead would “prevent the conclusion of the championship” and would “cause a serious organisational disorder”.

Treble-chasing Barca are on a high after sealing a 5-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich in the Champions League semis. — AFP

A strike would also disrupt “the international commitments of Spain and its clubs, as well as players’ holidays”, the court added.

It is a chaotic situation but treble-chasing Barca do not appear to be letting it dampen their euphoria, at least for the time being, after they secured their place in the Champions League final on Tuesday.

They are also through to the final of the King’s Cup to play Athletic Bilbao at the end of this month, when they will be seeking a record-extending 27th triumph. “There are only 90 minutes in Berlin between us and a fifth European title,” coach Luis Enrique told a news conference after Barca sealed a 5-3 aggregate win over Bayern Munich.

“We are one win away from being champions in all three competitions,” added the former Barca and Spain midfielder, who is in his debut season in charge at the Nou Camp. “We are very pleased.”

While Barca are on a high, Real Madrid, four points behind their arch rivals in second, are in the doldrums after their dream of a second straight Champions League crown, and a record-extending 11th overall, was ended by Juventus on Wednesday. Knocked out of the Cup by Atletico in January, Carlo Ancelotti’s men are almost certain to end the season without any of the three major trophies, a disastrous scenario for the world’s richest club by income.

“It’s obviously not what we want but there’s still a chance to win the league and we’ll keep fighting until it’s mathematically impossible,” Real’s Wales winger Gareth Bale told Sky Sports on Wednesday. “That’s all we can do.”

The AFE players’ union announced last week that footballers would go on strike indefinitely from Saturday and the league, which controls clubs in the top two divisions, filed a petition to have the action declared illegal.

Backed by top players such as Iker Casillas of Real Madrid and Barcelona’s Andres Iniesta, they are demanding that a bigger share of broadcast revenue be channelled to smaller clubs. The court said the decision to suspend the strike was an interim measure while it studied the case, with a final ruling expected in June.

The stoppage threatened to halt the clash between Atletico Madrid and Barcelona on Sunday which could seal the championship for Barca. It would also have disrupted the last league matches on May 23 and the Spanish cup final on May 30 between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao. The league had warned that a stoppage could cost it 50 million euros ($56 million) per match day in lost revenue. The RFEF federation, which controls top-league referees as well as lower-league clubs, withdrew its own threat to halt all competition from May 16 as soon at the court announced its ruling.

The origin of the conflict is a new law approved by the government last month that ends the tradition of clubs being allowed to negotiate their own TV deals. Instead, the rights would be auctioned just as they are in England’s multi-billion-pound Premier League, and the revenue shared out among various sectors of the sport.

Under the reform — approved by Spain’s lower house of parliament on Friday — 90 percent of television rights revenues would be redistributed to the top league and 10 percent to the second division. The goal is to loosen the financial stranglehold of Barcelona and Real Madrid, the two giants of the Spanish game. The government expects the new negotiating deal to boost broadcasting revenues to one billion euros ($1.125 billion) from 800 million euros this season.

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