MADRID (Reuters) - The political upheaval from Catalonia’s proposed split from Spain has held up negotiations to renew the Spanish soccer league’s international television rights deals, La Liga president Javier Tebas said on Tuesday.
“When you are selling something you need to know it’s the right moment and we decided now is not the moment to sell our television rights,” Tebas told reporters at the World Football Summit in Madrid on Tuesday.
“We are not just selling them in Spain and Europe — we have to think about India, Singapore, Turkey and other countries, so we’ve delayed it by a few weeks. It might be better in the long run as now is not a good time.”
Tebas has repeatedly declared his opposition to Catalonia’s drive for independence and stated that a declaration would result in the region’s most famous club and 24-times champions Barcelona being expelled from the top flight, along with Espanyol and Girona.
Tebas has considerably increased the league’s revenue from television rights since becoming president, pushing through a record domestic deal worth 2.65 billion euros (2.37 billion pounds)over three years in December 2015.
But he conceded that Barcelona’s hypothetical departure would have a big impact on the league’s coffers.
“La Liga would lose around 20 percent of its income if Real Madrid or Barcelona left,” he said.
“We’re talking about a problem that could have a huge impact on our competition, even though I don’t think (Catalonia splitting from Spain) will occur.”
The president also said he expected tensions to cool between the central government and Spain’s richest region over the banned referendum on Oct. 1.
Last week regional leader Carles Puigdemont stepped back from asking the Catalan parliament to vote on independence, instead making a symbolic declaration and calling for negotiations on the region’s future.
On Monday, meanwhile, senior secessionist figures Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez were imprisoned without bail pending an investigation for alleged sedition.
“I’ve been worried about this for many weeks but above all I don’t think (independence) is going to take place because the state is starting to respond,” added Tebas.
“The problem of independence is not new. It’s been there for a long time. We decided that given everything that is being said in international media it was the time to take a pause.
“In a couple of weeks the issue will be settled.”
Reporting by Richard Martin,; Editing by Neville Dalton