Spanish Football League Table

Atletico MadridAtletico Madrid were La Liga champions last season, pipping Real Madrid and Barcelona on the final day

By Andy West Spanish football writer

Spanish football will be suspended from 16 May because of a dispute over TV rights.

The Spanish football federation and the government are at odds over the way TV money is distributed.

The suspension - which will affect more than 600, 000 players and 30, 000 matches - comes as Barcelona lead La Liga rivals Real Madrid by two points, with only three games left to play.

The Spanish government has approved a new law on collective bargaining for TV rights, although this has yet to be passed.

The National Professional Football League (LFP) - the body responsible for Spain's top two leagues - supports the law and has begun legal action to try and block the suspension.

Currently, Barcelona and Real Madrid are allowed to negotiate their own TV deals, which means they claim nearly half the total amount of TV money.

In a statement, the Spanish federation stressed that they remain open to dialogue with the government, who have yet to respond.

Spanish football writer Andy West looks at how the long-running dispute has reached this point - and what happens next.

Why has this happened?

Thursday's DTX Deporte Campeon reports on the potential strike on the front page

Essentially, the suspension is the result of a power struggle over who runs Spanish football.

More specifically, it is the climax of a long-running dispute over the distribution of television revenue, which is currently heavily weighted in favour of the 'Big Two' of Barcelona and Real Madrid.

Even Barca and Real reluctantly accept the mechanism should change, and last week it appeared the saga was ending when the LFP and the Spanish government announced a new law to introduce a collective bargaining agreement, similar to the English Premier League's.

But now the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) have intervened because they are unhappy with some terms of the new deal and feel their authority is being undermined by not being involved enough in determining the finer points - they called it a "lack of respect" and claimed they were being "ignored".

The RFEF runs the sport in Spain, and has shown its disapproval by taking the ultimate step of picking up the ball and refusing to play, suspending all competitions at all age levels.

Perhaps the easiest way for British fans to understand the dispute is to liken it to the occasional power struggle that breaks out between the English Football Association (in Spain's case, the RFEF) and the Premier League (the LFP).

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