At the last minute, ITV has struck a deal to broadcast the opening of the Spanish football league season, which gets back underway this weekend as Barcelona heads to the San Mamés Stadium to take on Athletic Bilbao.
There are many stories to catch the interest of football fans in this season’s competition – how will Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid fare with Eden Hazard and Luka Jovic now part of the squad, Antoine Griezmann at Barcelona after finally leaving Atletico Madrid, Nabil Fekir at Real Betis after his move to Liverpool failed because of a medical last summer, Diego Simeone’s new-look Atleti without the aforementioned Griezmann as well as veteran defender Diego Godin who left for Inter Milan in Serie A.
La Liga 2019/20 will have many, many tales to tell. But the league’s long term UK broadcasting future is still unclear.
Eleven Sports’ plans for exclusive La Liga coverage in the UK fell apart last season. They could not agree a deal with either Sky Sports or BT Sport to use either as a linear broadcaster, to make it far more accessible in the home via your typical set-top TV box.
As a result, Eleven could only provide the coverage through its streaming service on site, something which would have turned a lot of potential viewers off of the idea of buying a subscription.
Eleven Sports is still trying to pursue a deal for the broadcasting of La Liga this season, however the league commences with ITV as its lone UK broadcaster.
La Liga and ITV has now confirmed the continuation of its broadcast partnership in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland. Weekly highlights of all the La Liga Santander action will also be shown on both ITV and ITV4 following each Matchday.
La Liga had invited all UK broadcasters to submit bids before July 25th if they would like the UK rights to show live La Liga football for the next three seasons.
Joris Evers, La Liga’s head of communications, commented: “After assessing all bids and required additional documentation from participating bidders, La Liga has declared the tender null and void because no satisfactory bids were received.”
Behind the scenes, there has been more for La Liga to contend with than just the failed UK broadcast tender. A legal battle between the Spanish FA and La Liga was ongoing until last week. The disagreement was over the potential staging of games on Monday and Friday nights, with the start date of the 2019/20 season in doubt throughout.
In the end, it appears that Monday night fixtures are a no-go for La Liga at the moment but Friday night games will go ahead – starting with the Athletic Bilbao Vs Barcelona game to kick-start the season this Friday, August 16th.
This has left a right mess for La Liga to deal with due to several games provisionally scheduled for Mondays now needing to be moved meaning that less than 24 hours before the season starts, the fixture list is not yet completed for La Liga 2019/20.