Soccer-Spanish clubs to meet on TV rights strike action

MADRID, March 25 (Reuters) - Officials from Spain's 42 professional soccer clubs meet in Barcelona later on Wednesday to decide whether to strike in a bid to force the government to pass a law mandating collective bargaining for TV rights. Many clubs in La Liga, including the likes of champions Atletico Madrid, Espanyol, Valencia and Sevilla, are hopeful a collective deal would enable them to demand more cash from broadcasters which would then be shared out more equitably to create a more level playing field. Spanish sports daily As reported on Tuesday, without identifying the source of its information, that a majority of clubs, especially the more modest ones, favoured shutting down Spain's top two leagues, possibly the weekend of April 18/19. La Liga is the only top European league in which clubs negotiate their own TV contracts and Spanish teams are under pressure to boost revenue after the English Premier League last month agreed a new collective TV rights deal for 2016-19 worth around 5 billion pounds ($7.43 billion) . Real Madrid, the world's wealthiest club by income, and Barcelona, the fourth richest, together take about half the annual La Liga TV money of around 650 million euros, one reason they usually finish far ahead of their domestic rivals. According to Esteve Calzada, CEO of Barcelona-based consulting firm Prime Time Sport, the ratio in England between the team that makes the most TV money and the one that makes the least is about 1.5:1 while in La Liga it is 10:1. Spain's professional soccer league (LFP), which represents the 42 clubs in the first and second divisions, has accused the government of dragging its feet in pushing through a new sports law that would include mandated collective bargaining. "We are working on it, it's what the sector wants," Miguel Cardenal, president of the government sports council (CSD), was quoted as saying on Tuesday. "It's a complex regulation," he added. "In addition, there are a lot of interested parties who want to have their say. We have not put the issue on ice and we are working on it." LFP president Javier Tebas is due to address the media after Wednesday's meeting at around 1200 GMT. ($1 = 0.6734 pounds) (Reporting by Iain Rogers, editing by Toby Davis)