Brazilian football has never been this close To create a club league Like now. An old debate in the country, with many initiatives that did not leave room for plans – and when they did, they did not advance, in the case of the Primeira Liga, buried before completing three years – this time it has the greatest chances of getting land. There is even a federation created to organize the Brazilian Championships in the A and B Series, and Libra (Brazilian Football League), Groups interested in the process and even the Brazilian Football Confederation gave approval.
Historically, the Brazilian Confederation has refused to lose control of national football, paving the way for clubs to put the initiative into action. It was an arrangement in exchange for the election of Edinaldo Rodriguez to the presidency of the entity without restrictions. Since then, the major teams in Brazil, such as Flamengo, Corinthians and Palmeiras, have been moving to convince their peers in the Italian Serie A and epidemic to sign up to create the league.
All the coaches Estadão asked said they supported a league independent of the Brazilian Confederation, and wanted a new calendar, as well as other changes in football.
At the end of the first half of March, at a meeting in Sao Paulo, a proposal for a management model for Brazilian clubs, submitted by LaLiga, which organizes the Spanish championship, together with XP and Alvarez & Marsal, was formalized. There are other groups interested in running the Brazilian League, such as Codajas Sports Kapital, which is linked to BTG, and Livemode, in partnership with 1990.
There is a great potential for investment. It seems that the scenario is favorable for the formation of this organization. Whatever is determined now will only be valid for 2025, when current contracts expire.
However, there is an important factor that is heating up discussions: the split of clubs, an age-old problem in football, designed because everyone looks at their own flag and not at promoting competitions. At least now, officers are acknowledging the need for clubs to unite around a common interest.
However, representatives of 40 clubs have not yet settled on the model of splitting television money. “We are sure that the league is the best for Brazilian football. It takes time to work and we need to achieve it. Therefore, we need the union. It is difficult for everyone to be at the same table,” said Duilio Monteiro. Alves, president of Corinthians.
The dilemma is only one: determining the dimensions of each person’s share of money, in order to please everyone. He who earns less, wants to earn more. Whoever earns more, wants more. The promise is that no club will receive less than today.
“If Brazilian football improves, everyone who works in it will benefit. It is this spirit that must prevail. Clubs must believe that if the product is improved, it will have more value,” explains Estadão Fred Luz, CEO of Alvarez and Marsal Consulting. “You don’t have to invent the wheel. Clubs have to see what has already been done and decide. You have to figure out how you are going to get to this ideal world,” warns Luz, who has been Flamengo’s manager for four years.
Palmeiras president, Leila Pereira, played a leading role in creating the league, but already warned that she would not waste her time on empty meetings. “Palmeras will not participate in meetings that have no purpose,” said Leila. “I am an objective woman. I don’t go to a meeting for three or four hours to discuss what is not there.”
The discussions reached some numbers that are being negotiated. All TV money will be distributed as follows; 45% evenly, 25% refer to sports scores (position in the leaderboard) and 30% by audience. So far, it hasn’t progressed any further. Teams like Flamengo receive up to R$150 million in TV rights.
There are two chains around the table. On the one hand, there are the clubs that founded Libra and those who joined it. There are ten: Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos, São Paulo, Red Bull Bragantino, Ponte Preta, Flamengo, Vasco, Botafogo and Cruzeiro. Their representatives do the work of persuading others.
Last Monday, 25 of these clubs took part in a meeting in Rio. They are: América-MG, Atlético-GO, Atlético-MG, Athletico-PR, Avaí, Ceará, Coritiba, Cuiabá, Fluminense, Fortaleza, Goiás, Internacional, Juventude, Brusque, Chapecoense, CRB, Locriciúma, CSA, Guarani, Marine, Worker, Sampaio Correa, Sport and Villa Nova. A committee was formed with some of these teams to collectively discuss the needs of the “weakest”.
It was the closest Brazilian football to a league called Clube dos 13. It was founded in 1987, and the following year it began to deal exclusively with the negotiation of broadcasting rights for the Brazilian championship. The entity was created with the participation of the teams of São Paulo, Corinthians, Palmeiras, Santos, Vasco, Fluminense, Flamengo, Botafogo, Internacional, Gremio, Cruzeiro, Atlético MG and Bahia, which together accounted for more than 90% of the country’s fans at that time. It practically ceased to exist in 2011.
Andres Sanchez, then president of Corinthians, always boasted of a body blown as a result of an unfulfilled promise made by Ricardo Teixeira, president of the Brazilian Football Confederation. At the time, the 20 teams affiliated with the Clube dos 13 were split due to the re-election of Grêmio’s former president, Fábio Koff, to head the institution, which had taken place the previous year. Cove defeated Clipper Light, the former head of Flamengo, who had the backing of Teixeira, the great godfather, to take command of Clube dos 13.
With the split between the two clubs, Andrés Sanchez, who was in the same political entourage as the duo Teixeira/Leite, began to undermine Clube dos 13. Broadcast rights for Brazilian championships from 2012 to 2014 were under negotiation. He understood that dividing money would be harmful to the Corinthians.
Subsequently, several clubs, including Flamengo, Fluminense, Vasco and Santos, began negotiating directly with television over their rights to broadcast matches. This emptied the club of 13. Without strength and a crack, the entity had no other way but to close its doors. Then the Brazilian Confederation began negotiating with television on behalf of the tournament.
Splitting the pie, the rights to broadcast matches, is the league’s Achilles heel, a factor that causes contention between managers and prevents an immediate agreement from being reached. In meeting with clubs, LaLiga president Tebas used the expression “disturbed and satisfied” to say there will always be an uncomfortable part in terms of revenue sharing.
“Not everyone can feel comfortable in this type of arrangement. There will always be someone who is uncomfortable,” admits Fred, CEO of Alvarez & Marsal. His proposal is to gradually reduce the financial disparity between those who earn the most and those who earn the least.
The ratio between a club that takes in more money and the one that keeps less is 1 to 7 in Brazil today. Much bigger teams compared to the European Championships. “You see that there is a very large variance that affects athletic performance,” he notes. “In Spain, the disparity was greater. It started with a ratio of 1 to 7. As incomes increased, the clubs with less profit reduced the difference.”
Recently, Ronaldo Phenomeno was disturbed by the lack of unity between the two clubs, admitted pessimism as negotiations progressed and asked the top owners to make an effort to find a good way out for all. “If things continue like this, it will be difficult for us to reach consensus and develop in the negotiations. I want to request that we sit down and openly discuss the possibilities,” Ronaldo said. Cruzeiro’s coach sees benefits only in the league. “It will unite many things, it will increase revenue for all clubs and it will improve the quality of broadcasting and the image of our football.”
But how will the league work? With that, the clubs will take over the negotiation of the TV rights. They would approach the sponsors and decide to split the money – a model similar to that applied at the old Doss 13 Club. In Spain, for example, the Spanish Football League takes care of the clubs. In this new format, which will only be valid from 2025 because contracts until 2024 have already been signed, the Brazilian Football Confederation will run only the Brazilian national team matches.
The idea is that there is an agreement this year so that structuring the organization of the entire league will begin in 2023. According to CEO Alvarez & Marsal, certain pillars are necessary for the league to have value: quality of governance, compliance, monitoring of how money is spent, financial oversight of clubs and central negotiation of economic rights .
The group led by LaLiga believes that Brazilian football has the potential to be among the top five leagues in the world and has the potential to aggregate. It is estimated at 25 billion Brazilian riyals per season. “But you don’t do it overnight,” says Freed. “It has to be built on, taking best practices and improving them.”
Marcelo Paz, president of Fortaleza, is betting on the league to attract and retain talent, as well as revolutionize the game experience for audiences. He is of the opinion that “with greater investment and structure, you can retain talent and attract the important players that are currently overseas”. “Another key point is to set a quality standard for the stadium and arenas. We have to think about the overall game experience, match day procedures, family spaces, entertainment and dining options in the arenas, and the internet available.”
Botafogo’s CEO, Jorge Braga, agrees, and calls for a “new experience” that thinks beyond football, as an entertainment product. “It is necessary to create a new kind of interaction with the masses. Every game should be an entertainment show for those in the stadium and those at home. I know that all this is expensive, and it will be necessary to educate the public in this sense, pay”, analyzes the executive.