Judge orders Spanish top flight to play

The Spanish league will go ahead as scheduled this weekend after a judge ruled Wednesday against a strike called by clubs in dispute over television revenue.

Judge Purificacion Pujol backed an appeal made by six mid-table clubs – Sevilla, Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao, Real Sociedad, Espanyol and Zaragoza- that opposed the strike saying, ”the official league calendar should remain unaltered.”

The league announced the strike on March 23, citing a lack of progress in talks with the government over club demands that a law guaranteeing that one match per week is broadcast on free-to-air television be revoked. The clubs argue they need the additional TV revenue that the extra game would provide.

The league wants to move to a complete pay-TV model like their English and Italian counterparts.

The postponement would have affected both first and second division games, including Barcelona’s visit to third-place Villarreal and Real Madrid’s game against Sporting Gijon.

All 20 first division clubs agree on revoking the law but there was a split over whether or not to play the next round.

Thirteen clubs, including Madrid and Barcelona, voted for the strike at a league general assembly while the six clubs that appealed voted against the measure.

Secretary of State for Sport Jaime Lissavetzky had asked the league to be sensible and call off the strike, adding that that the government was willing to continue talks.

Sevilla president Jose Maria del Nido said the Spanish league had the most unfair revenue sharing in Europe but that now was not the moment to make demands and that the fans should not have to pay the consequences.

Valencia international winger Juanma Mata said last week the strike would have been negative for the players.

The ruling can be appealed. There was no immediate reaction from the league or top clubs.