The President of the Spanish Football League (LFP), Jose Luis Astiazaran, has confirmed the he will not stand for re-election to his post in the forthcoming vote to choose one of the most important men in Spanish football on April 27.
"The time has come for another president in the LFP who, with the majority support that is so necessary to manage the organization and which I have enjoyed all of the time I have been in charge, can continue to advance in all of the questions which will strengthen the future of our professional football," said Astiazaran, who has been in the post since 2005.
His eight years in charge have seen a lot of changes in the Spanish game, but he leaves his post with many of Spain's football clubs struggling under the effects of the economic crisis and warnings that financial problems could cause many to disappear in the near future.
The main reason for this is the manner in which Spain's clubs negotiate their television rights, with each club negotiating individually with TV companies, this has seen the 'big two' of FC Barcelona and Real Madrid monopolize the market, earning almost 50 percent of the TV money in the BBVA Primera Liga, while leaving the other sides earning considerably less.
Indeed no other side in Spain earns 30 percent of what Barca or Madrid takes from TV money, which has led to a situation where these two sides dominate the top two places in the league table. Meanwhile the LFP has seen some roles dictated by the needs of the TV companies who virtually dictate the kick off times in the league in order to ensure the highest kick off audiences.
This has led to criticism of the fact that the Spanish football weekend spreads from Friday night to Monday night with 10 different kick off times. The fact that teams find their kick off times altered every week and that the games are all televised, all be it on pay channels, has also had a negative effect on attendances which fell by 3.58 percent in the first half of the current season.
"They have seen very intense years and the work carried out by the FLP has been very relevant. We have fulfilled many of the objectives which I set. The value of TV rights has increased and the relationship with the football players' union has been made professional, resolving our differences," said Astiazaran, in reference to the players' strike over unpaid wages owed by some clubs which caused the start of the 2011-2012 season to be delayed by a week.
The former President of Real Sociedad, who he left with crippling debts and on the verge of relegation to the second division, in order to take over at the LFP, Astiazaran's announcement follows accusations of mismanagement at club during his four years in charge.
Inaki Badiola, who was Real Sociedad President, in 2008 recently said that before he took over the club, Real Sociedad had been spending 327,000 euros(around 400,000 US dollars) a year on doping. These allegations were denied by the club, although former goalkeeper, Sander Westerveld admitted players had received vitamin injections in the dressing room. Badiola said he had sacked the two club doctors as a result of his discoveries.
Meanwhile the Spanish magazine 'Intervu' published on March 3 that during Astiazaran's time in charge, Real Sociedad had kept a parallel set of accounts which had been used to finance illegal tax free payments to club employers, including players, as well as paying other clubs incentives to win games against Real Sociedad's rivals.
Astiazaran's Vice-President at the LFP is now the favorite to replace him in the role.