La Liga dispute with beIN heads for Spanish courts

An ongoing spat between Spain’s top football league La Liga and sports broadcaster beIN has been taken to the law courts. Last week, La Liga filed an application at a court in Madrid for an interim ruling to freeze beIN’s assets, claiming it was owed €51m in late payments. The court granted the application, accepting the argument that it would be easy for beIN to swiftly transfer money outside the court’s jurisdiction.

Javier Tebas

The Qatar-based broadcaster has paid La Liga around $1.5bn over the last few years but is currently behind on payments. It has been seeking to arrange a payment plan, but La Liga seems to have run out of patience. In a statement, beIN said: “We will not discuss publicly the private discussions we’ve been having with La Liga, or any rights-holder for that matter, regarding specific contracts. That is not how business should be conducted, certainly not by professional and dignified institutions.

The current dispute is part of a larger conflict between La Liga president Javier Tebas and beIN’s chairman Nasser al-Khelaifi, who is also president of French Ligue 1 club Paris St Germain. Tebas has long been unhappy with PSG’s big budget acquisition of La Liga stars, a recent example being Lionel Messi’s move from Barcelona. Tebas believes Qatar’s petrodollars now exert to great an influence over European football.

In the current payment dispute, the court papers claim that that the league asked beIN about a payment that was due in August three times. BeIN has suggested that it is not uncommon for broadcasters to make delayed payments to rights holders.

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