La Liga, union agree to play games over Christmas period for first time

Spanish league president Javier Tebas says he is happy that the country's players' union have agreed a late calendar change which will see a round of games played during the Christmas period.

Since 1990, La Liga teams have always had a two-week "winter break" which allows players a midseason rest to recharge their batteries, and also lets non-Spaniards travel to spend the holiday period with their families in their home countries.

However, this break will be cut short in 2015 because of a deal between the league authorities (LFP), the Spanish federation (RFEF) and the players' union (AFE), which has lead to a third different change in the Primera Division calendar, as the parties involved jockey to gain advantage.

Last week, Spain's secretary of state for sport, Miguel Cardenal, intervened to resolve an impasse between the LFP and RFEF, but Spain national team coach Vicente Del Bosque promptly criticised the proposed new calendar for not allowing his squad enough time to prepare for Euro 2016.

The latest revised calendar will see La Liga's final round of games played on May 15, with the Copa del Rey provisionally set for the following weekend, meaning Del Bosque should have more time with his Spain-based players ahead of the Euros, which start in France on June 10.

Not all the affected players were happy with the news, with Real Madrid and former Spain full-back Alvaro Arbeloa tweeting his disappointment with the union's part in the surprise decision.

"Thanks to AFE for consulting with us and informing us at all moments about the change in the calendar... Oh wait!," Arbeloa wrote.

Last April, Tebas called on union president Luis Rubiales to resign after a players strike threatened the end of the 2013-14 La Liga campaign, but the pair are now on the same page regarding the fixture list, the LFP chief said in an interview in AS.

"On Wednesday I spoke with the AFE president, Luis Rubiales, and we agreed to play over Christmas," Tebas said. "I am delighted with and appreciate his effort, and that of the players.

"La Liga does not want to just improve the championship, but also to help the national team, my team, as I am Spanish too. But of course, we all have to give something.

"To play over Christmas was an old aspiration of the LFP, who is now going to be possible. It will be very good for the fans, for the children who are on holidays, for the families, for the TV stations and for the clubs.

"The players do not come out of it too badly. They must understand that they must make an effort for the league that pays their wages. I promise that all footballers can take their grapes at home [on New Year's Eve], if that is what concerns them."

Tebas also said an effort made to promote La Liga in countries around the world, and the new TV deal agreed earlier this year, meant it had moved ahead of the Premier League in many ways.

"To begin with, our championship is being followed in all parts of the globe," Tebas said. "Apart from Greenland and Mongolia we have deals done with almost all the other countries, so the games can be seen on TV. This international expansion was one of our great challenges.

"La Liga will be seen in more places than the Premier League. It is a milestone. Also, [there is] the financial leap which comes with this expansion. The centralised sale of the rights will bring us more than €1.3 billion [a year], and next season we expect to be around €1.6 billion.

"The revenues will grow when we reach our next objective, which is to grow digital traffic on the internet. All this money will go to benefit the clubs."