The RFEF and LaLiga must settle in good faith

Return to News — Monday 08 June — 2020 by Nicolás Martínez de las Rivas

That´s how the judgement given by the Commercial Court No. 2 of Madrid, past 27th of May 2020 (available at CENDOJ: ECLI:ES: JMM:2020:962) put an end, at least provisionally as an appeal is possible, to the controversy between the National Professional Football League (LNFP or LaLiga) and the Royal Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) over the scheduling of national championship matches on Fridays and Mondays.

This conflict, which has been going on for a long time, was crystallized in court the 12th of July 2019, when the LNFP filed a lawsuit with a request for ex parte precautionary injunctions against the RFEF. In the claim several actions were brought under Law 3/1991, of January 10, on Unfair Competition (LCD) and Law 15/2007, of July 3, on Competition Law (LDC), whose purpose was to stop the RFEF from acting in an allegedly obstructive manner by preventing the LNFP from setting Fridays and Mondays as the days that can be included in the national championship.

After the hearing for precautionary measures was held in August 2019 (the adoption of ex parte interim injunction was rejected), Order No. 356/2019 was issued, partially granting the precautionary injunctions requested by the LNFP and granting the RFEF an injunction to cease obstructing the holding of First and Second Division football matches on the Fridays of each match day of the National League Championship, after the requested security in the amount of 15,000,000 euros had been established.

In the main proceedings, things went differently, ending with a ruling of dismissal, for various reasons: (i) Regulation: because according to the applicable Laws, the LNFP must be understood and coordinated with the RFEF for the organization of matches outside the official calendar (which includes only Saturdays and Sundays); (ii) Application of the “estoppel” doctrine : the parties had been negotiating agreements on the Championship calendar for years, where the LNFP expressly recognized the "supremacy" of the RFEF, and the need for its approval; and (iii) Lack of evidence: because the plaintiff did not provide any evidence, neither of the alleged production of damages derived from the alleged unfair acts of the RFEF; nor in relation to the alleged incardinated in the LDC, such as the alleged threats by the RFEF of not sending referees to the matches.

In short, it seems that the LNFP should have an understanding with the RFEF for the organization of the league calendar, and the fixing of matches outside the official day, that is, on Mondays and Fridays. I personally believe that an agreement between both parties would be beneficial both for the fans (who would be able to enjoy more football days), and for the development of this sport (as the income from television rights would be higher). Please listen to the judge and come to an agreement (as it seems that the reason for the discrepancy, the last ratio, is economic). Fans will be delighted to have more days of football per week.