The president of La Liga, Javier Tebas, has questioned whether the Premier League is financially sustainable in the long term given it has “converted into a competition where all clubs lose money”.
Speaking at a conference about how to protect European football’s ecosystem, Tebas also promised to fight the rules that allow Premier League clubs to “distort” the transfer market by spending huge sums on players despite making losses.
During the 2022 summer transfer window the net spend of the Premier League surpassed £1bn for the first time, according to Deloitte, which noted that English clubs were responsible for 49% of spending across the big five leagues during the window, the highest proportion since 2008.
Tebas questioned whether such spending was sustainable as he called for English football to face similar rules to Spain and Germany. “What I’m worried about is the Premier League, and I’ve been worried for many years now,” he said. “But now it’s converted into a competition that has losses every year. All clubs lose money. There is no sustainability in the Premier League. The Premier League is not a financially sustainable model.”
He added: “They’re financed by the owners but with enormous amounts of money and that is distorting the market. They get more revenues, OK. But you lose money. And you’re injecting one and a half billion every year. What does it mean? It means you’re not sustainable at all.”
A significant majority of Premier League clubs made a loss during the 2020-21 financial year, the most recent for which all accounts are available, but three members of the current top flight did report a profit: Wolves, Leeds and Manchester City.
La Liga says that under its rules since 2013 clubs are not allowed to register players if they are running at a loss, and must spend within the means of their annual income during transfer windows. Tebas made clear he would like similar rules applied to the English game.
“You need financial sustainability,” he said. “We can compete with the Premier League without any problem at all. I’m not worried about the fact that the 15th position team in the Premier League signs a Spanish player. I’m worried about the fact that they sign them when they’re making losses. Because we don’t allow our clubs to do that.”
Tebas denied a suggestion from a member of the European parliament that the Premier League had become a de facto super league. But he conceded that fairer regulation could have the added benefit of preventing a breakaway European Super League, given clubs such as Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain unhappy with the Premier League’s dominance and spending power.
“The only two leagues that are sustainable economically are the Bundesliga and La Liga,” he said. “We need to fight so that financial sustainability is also applied to the Premier League.”
Tebas also predicted that Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona would soon announce revised plans for a European Super League with two categories, along with promotion and regulation. He added that such a plan had been presented to the European Club Association in 2019 and the clubs had decided it “would never work”.