Barcelona president wants 16-club Spanish league

BY foxsports • November 7, 2011

Barcelona President Sandro Rosell wants the Spanish league to be cut from 20 clubs to 16 and said Monday the spending of wealthy foreign owners should be limited.

Barcelona and Real Madrid, which dominate the league, also understand they must help their opponents through fairer television rights deals, Rosell said.

Rosell told the International Football Arena conference that his proposed changes would make the league more competitive.

''By reducing the number of clubs in the league, all the clubs will become more competitive,'' he said, suggesting an initial cut to 18 clubs before losing two more.

Inequality in Spain is driven by the big two clubs combining to earn half of the top league's TV rights - about ?135 million ($190 million) each.

Rosell said Barcelona and Madrid should agree within five years to follow the English Premier League model. It gives international broadcast rights revenue in 20 equal shares, and domestic rights according to league position and how often a team's matches are shown.

''We have to put all the TV rights in one pot for distribution,'' said Rosell, whose club has been European champion three times since 2006. ''We are talking to the rest of the clubs and we understand this is the future. We have to take care of the demands of the other 18 clubs. ''

However, Rosell objected to foreign interests buying Spanish clubs, such as Qatari-owned Malaga, and spending heavily to compete.

''I don't like it, but it is happening. In the Premier League there are no more clubs to be sold, and now they are coming to Spain,'' he said.

Rosell said Barcelona was an association owned by 180,000 members and could not raise capital to compete with other clubs' benefactors.

''I would try to put financial limits, especially on people buying clubs from outside.'' he said.

Rosell promised that the Catalan giant would ''never be for sale'' while he was president, despite its worldwide popularity.

''We are trying to be global but not forgetting our locality and our roots as a Catalan club with 130 years of history,'' he said.

Rosell acknowledged that Barcelona, which has debts of about ?500 million ($700 million), was ''not in a good position'' financially.

''We are not in a good position because we owe a lot of money to the banks. But it is under control,'' Rosell said.

He predicted that Barcelona's business plan would right the club's finances within five years ''if nothing (bad) happens.''