Spanish League returns under a financial cloud, no Messi at Nou Camp
La Liga, just three years ago the undisputed monarch of European football, returns for a new season on Friday after a traumatic summer that ended with its crown jewel being given away.
The free transfer of Lionel Messi to Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday drove home the financial turmoil that is eroding the power of Spanish football.
While Messi is the biggest star to leave, and his former club Barcelona have been particularly cavalier in racking up debts estimated at 1.2bn euros, Spanish football has money worrie.
s The pandemic has cost the top-flight clubs some 2bn euros (1.4bn dollars) and the desperation is showing.
The league is trying to enforce a tough salary cap, while searching for funds.
Its assembly on Thursday will vote on the sale of 10 per cent of commercial rights for 50 years to private equity firm CVC in exchange for 2.7 billion euros.
Real Madrid and Barcelona are fighting the deal saying it is selling their futures.
Yet the same two clubs are refusing to give up hope of a giant, and potentially toxic, carrot of their own, even though nine of the other Super League clubs have withdrawn and the source of the $4bn loot, bankers JP Morgan Chase, have apologised to fans.
The Euros and Olympics again displayed the depth of talent in Spanish football and this may be the season for youngsters to break out because, with 20 days left in the transfer window, Spanish cubs are not buying players.
Real and Barcelona, who between them won every Champions League final from 2014-18, are living, and dying, by free transfers.
Like Barcelona, Real Madrid decided they could not afford a new contract for their talismanic captain. Like Messi, Sergio Ramos departed for a late-career jackpot at Paris Saint-Germain.
Such is the cachet of Real and Barca that they can still attract a high class of free agent. -AFP