Astiazaran to leave post
Liga de Futbol Profesional (LFP) president Jose Luis Astiazaran has confirmed that he will not seek re-election when his current term ends in April, leaving current vice-president Javier Tebas a clear run at the top job.
Former Real Sociedad president Astiazaran, who took provisional charge of the LFP in 2004 and was subsequently elected for further terms in 2005 and 2009, announced his decision via a statement on Monday.
The new president is to be chosen on April 27, with Tebas, who has previously helped a number of Spanish clubs through the country's 'Ley Concursal' administration procedures, the only announced candidate for the post. Tebas also represents the G30 group of clubs whose majority voting power has helped maintain La Liga's TV rights status quo, under which Real Madrid and Barcelona receive about 50 per cent of the approximately €650 million paid each year, with the remainder shared between the other 38 top first and second division clubs.
"The hour has come to pass the baton on to another president of the LFP who, with the necessary majority backing from the management of this organisation, as I have had all this time, can keep advancing on all the issues which reinforce the future of professional football," Astiazaran's statement said. "These have been years of great intensity and relevance in the work done from the LFP. Many of my objectives have been fulfilled. My turn in charge has come to an end."
The statement listed some of these objectives as improving the broadcasting revenues paid to La Liga's clubs, broadening Spanish football's marketing reach into new markets in Asia and improving relations with the players' union (AFE). It did not mention the players' strike, which delayed the start of the 2011-12 season by a week, or the estimated €3.5 billion in debt shared by clubs in Spain's top two divisions.
In February, Inaki Badiola, another former Real Sociedad president, claimed in interviews with newspaper AS and radio station Cadena Ser that Astiazaran had known about doping at the club during his term in charge, when club doctors allegedly paid €300,000 a year for black-market banned medicines.
The allegation came after documents revealed during the 'Operacion Puerto' trial, in which Spanish doctor Eufemiano Fuentes and four codefendants face doping charges, showed the code 'RSOC', an apparent reference to the Basque club. El Pais subsequently published documents with the code 'Asti', which the newspaper said may have been a reference to the outgoing LFP president. Both Real Sociedad's current board and Astiazaran have strongly denied any wrongdoing.
Astiazaran has since kept a low profile, while Tebas has been a much more visible public figure. In February he told radio station Cadena Cope that a Spanish first or second division club could disappear in the coming months if TV revenues did not keep flowing as agreed. In January he admitted that games had been fixed in recent seasons in La Liga, but said he did not have enough evidence to bring a case against any particular club.