Spanish court to rule on La Liga strike meet after meeting with league, union

BARCELONA, Spain -- A Spanish court will decide whether football players can go ahead with their planned strike before the final two rounds of the season.

The National Court said on Monday it was summoning the Spanish league (LFP) and the Spanish players' union (AFE) to "hear arguments" on Wednesday before ruling on the league's request that the strike be temporarily suspended.

The union has the backing of the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) to begin an "indefinite" strike on Saturday in protest of a proposed government law to regulate broadcast revenues. If the law is approved, it would centralise the sale of TV rights and supposedly give the teams in the Primera Division the vast majority of the revenue.

The strike would affect the last two rounds of the league and the Copa del Rey final on May 30. Barcelona need one win to clinch the league title and are set to play Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final.

LFP president Javier Tebas said it was unlikely that the two sides would be able to come to an agreement on their own after Wednesday's meeting.

"The conciliation act is a step that has to be taken when a strike is called," Tebas said. "We will sit with the Footballers' Union representatives and listen to what they have to say. I find it difficult that there will be an agreement in the conciliation act.

"In the meantime, we call on the RFEF to stop on the path they have pursued."

Representatives from the 42 first- and second-division clubs that make up the competitions run by the LFP held an emergency meeting on Monday. Club presidents stood by their plan to switch to collective rights in order to increase the competitiveness of the league.

"The threat of the strike exists. We fully support the Royal Decree [proposed law]," Tebas said. "We have presented a lawsuit because we believe this strike is illegal and can be very damaging. We are looking at an illegal strike and that is why we have gone to the judicial system.

"We've also requested that the Spanish Sports Council [CSD] grant us a temporary measure in view of the RFEF's petition to suspend the campaign. We hope the CSD will resolve this within the next two days."

The league released a statement afterwards repeating its stance that the strike called by the players' union last week, a day after the federation had already announced it was suspending all league and Copa del Rey matches from May 16, was "clearly a strategy of the federation and was just as illegal."

The players' union says it supports the general spirit of the law, but is striking because it wants more money to go to lower divisions. The proposed law would send 90 percent of revenues to the Primera Division.

However, Tebas said the deal was fair, and that the union was not seeing the whole picture.

"It's not true that the players will miss out on any rights," he said. "They are misinformed. The Royal Decree has benefits."

Currently, each team creates their individual TV deals. The government and league argue that the new law would lead to a more equitable split of revenues, thus helping clubs other than Real Madrid and Barcelona earn more money.

If there is a strike, the RFEF would prevent their referees from working the games.

"We have not considered the possibility of bringing in foreign referees," Tebas said. "If the high court declares the strike illegal and the CSD gives us the temporary measure, the Spanish officials will be obliged to referee."

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.