Barcelona are to appeal a fine of 3.6 million euros imposed by Spain’s competition authority due to a TV rights deal signed before the current board took charge at the Camp Nou.
• Tomas: Trust Martino
The Spanish National Competition Commission [CNMC] has punished the Catalan club, as well as Real Madrid [3.9 million euros], Sevilla [900,000 euros] and Racing Santander [30,000 euros] for signing TV contracts which it says were illegal. TV broadcast rights holder Mediapro has also been fined [6.5 million euros].
Those deals singled out cover four seasons [from 2010-11 to 2013-14], while the authorities say that such agreements can only last three years at the longest. It is not yet known if Madrid, Sevilla and Racing plan to also appeal the decision.
Barca’s statement announcing the appeal said the club felt it had acted in accordance with the relevant law, while also taking the opportunity to point out the contract was signed before Sandro Rosell replaced Joan Laporta as blaugrana president in 2010.
“FC Barcelona is appealing against the decision of the Spanish National Competition Commission to impose a fine of 3,600,000 euros,” the statement said. “The contract that is now subject to sanction was signed by the previous Board of Directors on June 9, 2010, four days before the presidential elections.
"At the time, that decision was questioned by some of the candidates because of the commitment it would impose on whoever won the election. FC Barcelona’s appeal is based on the understanding that the contract was signed in accordance with the General Law of Audiovisual Communication, and that the contract has not affected in practice the audiovisual marketplace.”
The fines are the latest development in a long-running ‘TV rights war’ between Mediapro and its competitor Sogecable [a part of the Prisa media group which also includes broadcaster Canal Plus, as well as newspapers AS and El Pais].
The two rights holders have tried to poach each other’s clubs over recent seasons, with issues related to this almost delaying the start of the 2012-13 Primera Division season. The row could become moot should the Spanish government push through plans to centralise the sale of TV rights in future.