Barca ex­press fears

Lesotho Times - - Sport -

BARCELONA — The English Premier League is a big­ger ri­val to Barcelona than Real Madrid, says Josep Maria Bar­tomeu — pres­i­dent of the La Liga cham­pi­ons.

The 20 English top-flight teams will share £5.136bn for live do­mes­tic TV cov­er­age of matches from next sea­son.

Al­though Barca ouclassed Arse­nal 2-0 in Lon­don on Tues­day night in the Uefa Cham­pi­ons League Last 16 first leg tie, Bar­tomeu still be­lieves the premier league has be­come at­trac­tive to play­ers be­cause of huge salaries.

“Premier League teams will have an in­cred­i­ble fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion from now on and we are wor­ried,” Bar­tomeu told BBC.

Spain’s top two teams — Barca and Real — pre­vi­ously ne­go­ti­ated their own TV deals, but have now been stopped from do­ing so un­der a new Span­ish law.

It means new rules will see rights to show La Liga pooled and sold col­lec­tively, bring­ing it more in line with the Premier League — which will see the bot­tom club still earn £99m next sea­son.

He added: “The Premier League is the best foot­ball com­pe­ti­tion. It has the most in­ter­est for fans and most rev­enues. They are do­ing things good and keep­ing teams in the com­pe­ti­tion where ev­ery­one be­ing equal is of in­ter­est for ev­ery­body.

“We have dif­fer­ent bud­gets in Spain and it would be dif­fi­cult for some­one like (cur­rent Premier League lead­ers) Le­ices­ter to be top of the league.

“Our ri­vals are the Premier League, they are the big ad­ver­saries. We have to do our best to in­crease our rev­enues and our fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion to make the tal­ent of our teams stay with us.

“That is why I am so wor­ried and we are work­ing on this. We want to keep the tal­ent at home.

“I know our play­ers are in touch with other clubs, it’s nor­mal. None of our play­ers said they want to leave. Most get bet­ter eco­nom­i­cal of­fers, but our play­ers are not in Barcelona for the money, they are there be­cause of the foot­ball and the fans’ com­mit­ment.”

Barcelona’s Lionel MESSI (left) CEL­E­BRATES AF­TER scor­ing THE open­ing Goal Dur­ing THE Cham­pi­ons LEAGUE round of 16 first LEG soc­cer MATCH AGAINST Arse­nal on TUES­DAY.

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