Barcelona could be crowned Spanish league champions without kicking a ball this weekend if a planned players’ strike goes ahead, according to La Liga chief Javier Tebas.
Spain’s players union, AFE, has called the strike due to its issues with new legislation mandating how TV revenues are collected and shared out in Spanish football, while the Spanish federation, RFEF, has also said that no referees will be made available for games.
Tebas has been strongly critical of both AFE president Luis Rubiales and RFEF chief Angel Maria Villar for their roles in proposing the strike, which remained due to go ahead after a mediation meeting on Tuesday ended without any significant progress being made, although a Madrid court is to rule on Wednesday on whether the stoppage would be illegal.
With only two rounds of fixtures left to play on the official schedule, Barca sit four points ahead of second-placed Real Madrid, meaning Carlo Ancelotti’s side would cannot finish top unless they win both their remaining games and Luis Enrique’s men fail to win both of theirs.
Speaking after Tuesday’s inconclusive mediation attempt, Tebas told El Pais that legally speaking any games that do not go ahead would simply be removed from the official season records, which would leave Madrid unable to secure the four points they would require to overtake their rivals.
“The right to strike means the fixture which is stopped is still fulfilled,” Tebas, a lawyer-by-trade, said. “That means it would not be recovered.”
This interpretation of the law would also likely be tested by clubs whose position would be negatively affected.
Should this weekend’s games — which are all scheduled for Sunday — not go ahead, other dates have been proposed in the media, including the following Tuesday or Wednesday.
However, if no agreement is reached quickly, it could be impossible to rearrange the games given complications including international fixtures, players’ contracts and TV deals.
Barcelona are scheduled to play at defending champions Atletico Madrid on Sunday, knowing a win would secure the title.
Barca centre-back Gerard Pique said on his club’s official website: “We will see if we have to play this weekend against Atletico Madrid with the strike.”
The dispute could also have huge ramifications elsewhere in the La Liga table.
Valencia are currently fourth, in the final Champions League qualification spot, but fifth-placed Sevilla are just three points behind.
At the bottom of the table, Cordoba are already mathematically sure to be playing in the Segunda Division next season, but the other two relegation spots are not yet decided, with Deportivo La Coruna, Granada and Eibar all locked together on 31 points. Almeria, meanwhile, have 32, pending a CAS ruling on whether they will be docked three points by FIFA.
Should any games be cancelled outright Levante and Getafe — both currently on 36 points — would be officially safe.