MADRID: The Spanish league is to defy the government and radio stations in a season-long dispute over match coverage fees.

Radio plays a powerful role in the Spanish game and stations had always enjoyed free access and broadcasting rights – unlike most other countries – until this season.

The league sought to bar radio stations which did not pay rights fee but the rigour with which this was enforced varied from club to club. The radio stations complained to the Sports Ministry and, on Friday, the government issued a decree of settlement.

This laid down an order that, though radio stations should pay for the cost of facilities, they were not liable to pay commercial rights fees.

The league, which represents professional clubs in Spain’s top two divisions, is to ignore the decree.

A statement said: “The modification clearly and directly affects the current contracts between clubs and audiovisual operators, contracts whose content will be affected by the modification, so that the decree has caused significant economic pain.

“It constitutes irreparable damage that could violate article 33 of the Spanish constitution, which is why the LFP will take the appropriate and necessary action to defend the interests of the clubs and seek reparation, as well as to protect the rights affected.

“As a result, and until the conflict created by the decree has been resolved, the LFP will not allow radios access to the stadiums that have not been accredited by the LFP.”

Immediate main match affected was the  ‘Clasico’ between Barcelona and Real Madrid.

France, alone of other major western European countries, insists that radio stations enjoy freedom of broadcast access.

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