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Five Changes La Liga Needs

The current rules benefit the wrong people.

Presentation Of ELiga Santander In Madrid Photo by Irina R. H. / AFP7 / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images

If you’re one of the handful of folks who follow our Twitter page, which if you don’t (@VillarrealUSA) you have seen several reactions to the Martin Braithwaite transfer from Leganes to Barcelona. We’re not a Leganes page, and really before this story broke other than the occasional pickle pun I personally ignored them unless they happened to be playing Villarreal. The thing is, though, the same rules use to take advantage of them could be turned on us as well. As football clubs, we are all in this together and to want what is truly best for my own club I have to want rules that are fair and equitable for us all. With that in mind, here are a few rules that I think La Liga needs to change:

The Injury Replacement Rule

The rule that inspired this entire conversation. Nevermind the fact that Barcelona have abused this rule, the rule itself should never have existed in the first place. Barcelona sold two forwards during the January window as they tried to sign strikers from Rodrigo to Bakambu without success. After the Ousmane Dembele was found to need season ending surgery, they applied for an emergency injury replacement. Instead of signing a wide forward, which would have been an actual Dembele replacement, they signed a central forward, the same position they failed to sign in January.

What’s more, they took arguably the best player off a team that desperately needs him. Leganes got 20m for the player but if they go down, that will cost them about 40m in tv revenue. Some deal.

The rule means well, it doesn’t want teams seasons ruined for bad injury luck, but the problem is there is no equitable way to do it. The team who sells cannot replace their player. If a release clause is hit they cannot stop the transfer from happening, and clubs with basically limitless funds like Barca can benefit from it much easier than small clubs who barely have a transfer budget to begin with. In the end, it benefits the rich clubs more than it does the struggling ones, and the big clubs have enough advantages already. For the record, the RREF wanted this rule done away with and the president of La Liga, Jabier Tebas, disagreed:

Mandatory Release Clauses

If a player and his agent negotiate a release clause into their contract with a club, fine. However, requiring clubs to put a release clause in every contract sets small clubs up for failure. This rule takes away the negotiating leverage of the selling team and the price is no longer based on the laws of supply and demand but on what deals clubs with enough money to hit fees can find on the clause heap.

This doesn’t just benefit the rich and powerful at the top of La Liga, it also makes the entire league vulnerable to the money laden Premier League over in England. Just as it was stupid for the Premier League to make its window close before everyone else because it hurt their ability to negotiate, it is likewise dumb for us to tell a league richer than us “hey, come get whatever you want”.

As the release clause interacts with the emergency replacement rule above, I’ve actually changed my mind in the last week. I originally though the release clause would keep a big club from unsettling a player and getting him for peanuts. Since then, I think it’s been show that the ability to take a team’s player without them having any option whatsoever is much more harmful.


Okay, I’m not going to get my way on this one, I accept that. I’ll keep this brief because anyone who reads the blog already knows how I feel. VAR slows the game down, dilutes goal celebrations, changes rules like offside from how they’ve been applied for the entire history of the game, and still results in just as many controversies as we had before.

Oh, and one other thing, VAR protects big teams more than it helps small teams. If every game had zero missed calls, the more talented team would win a higher percentage of the time than it does now. The romance of football is found largely in the upsets.

Parachute Payments

Parachute payments are part of many major football leagues at this point. The idea is sound, it prevents clubs from facing a financial crisis every time a relegation happens by allowing them to ease from a budget perspective from La Liga to the Segunda.

The problem with the way La Liga does it is if a club goes down how much of a parachute payment it receives varies depending on how long it had spent in La Liga and how much broadcasting revenue it had already been making. I disagree with this policy and think every club should receive the same amount. When Deportivo La Coruna goes down, they don’t need more money than say, and Elche, just because they are a bigger club who was in La Liga longer. Depor is going to get five or six times the broadcasting revenue that other Segunda division teams do, why do they need more parachute money?

Goalkeepers Scoring

It’s currently a rule in La Liga that a keeper cannot kick the ball from his own hands and score a goal. That’s stupid. If a keeper punts the ball and it ends up in the other net, enough absurdity happened on its course that he deserves a goal.

Concluding Thoughts

I 100% believe that La Liga is the best league on earth, despite its flaws. I am of the opinion that the most successful clubs who drive the league’s brand do deserve a larger percentage of the revenues from the league itself, but in terms of the rules which impact the competition itself, too many of them give privilege to the already powerful clubs.

So what do you think? What needs to change, what needs to stay the same, how wrong am I about VAR or revenue sharing, let me know in the comments!