La Liga kickoff times have fans, clubs in a spin

Saturday Sociedad     vs     Celta Vigo    19:00  Betis     vs     Rayo    21:00 Espanyol     vs     Zaragoza Málaga     vs     Mallorca    23:00

Sociedad     vs     Celta Vigo    19:00 
Betis     vs     Rayo    21:00
Espanyol     vs     Zaragoza
Málaga     vs     Mallorca    23:00   
Osasuna     vs     Barcelona    19:00    Getafe     vs     Real Madrid    21:00    Granada     vs     Sevilla
Valencia     vs     Deportivo    23:00   
Valladolid     vs     Levante        20:00    Atlético     vs     Athletic        22:00   

MADRID - The dispute over broadcasting rights ownership that almost delayed the start of the La Liga season last week has been resolved, but the resulting muddle of kick-off times is causing indignation among clubs and fans in Spain.

The second round of fixtures sees Champions League participants Malaga and Valencia both kickoff their matches, against Real Mallorca on Saturday and Deportivo Coruna on Sunday, at 2300 local time (2100 GMT).

Last week's deal, that appeased the feuding rights holders Canal+ and Mediapro who share the broadcasting of La Liga in Spain, has led to the professional league (LFP) spreading games across a dizzying set of times on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.  There were fan protests at a number of grounds last weekend, with three games finishing close to 0100 local time. "We have up to 10 different kickoff times for La Liga.

 It's madness," Spanish TV pundit Michael Robinson, the former Ireland international, said on his Twitter feed on Wednesday. Valencia, who finished third last season, drew 1-1 away at the champions Real Madrid last weekend. They host promoted Depor in a clash between the only two sides to have won La Liga outside of Real and Barcelona in the last 16 years.

"It's a time for sleeping," Valencia's Portugal international Joao Pereira said this week. "How are you going to take a 10-year-old kid to see a game at this time? It isn't good for football."

Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini joined the chorus of complaints before Wednesday's 2-0 Champions League playoff victory over Panathinaikos.

"Because of the strange programming of games due to television, we play on Saturday and finish at around one in the morning, and on Tuesday play the Champions League," the former Real coach told a news conference referring to their return leg in Greece.

"Let's see if Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia receive the same treatment. The four teams all represent Spain and should be treated the same."

Another related issue, at the heart of the problem, is the wider debate over the sharing of television revenues between clubs. There is no system of collective bargaining in La Liga similar to those that exist in rival European leagues.

Most La Liga sides are unhappy that Real and Barca dominate proceedings with individually negotiated deals, taking almost half of the 600 million euro pot between them, which helps make them the world's richest soccer clubs by income.


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