Barca express fears
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.