The Liga club have been punished for not meeting new regulation of minimum 70-percent ticket sales as LaLiga targets Premier League's dominance.
Celta Vigo have been slapped with a fine by the Professional Football League (LFP) for low attendances in their first two home games of the 2017-18 Liga season.
The size of the fine has not been made public but stems from a new LFP diktat that states all Primera División clubs must have an attendance of no less than 70 percent of the stadium’s capacity. Celta’s Balaídos ground holds 29,000 spectators but the turnstiles clacked to the tune of 16,961 people for the game against Real Sociedad and 17,384 for the fixture against Alavés.
The LFP introduced the regulation this season in order to compete with the marketability of the Premier League, the most-watched top-flight in the world in terms of global audience.
LaLiga's drive for global audience
After LaLiga clubs successfully lobbied for reform of the television revenue system to ensure a more equitable slicing of the financial pie, the LFP has taken steps to ensure that those areas of Spanish stadiums across which cameras pan most often are not displaying rafts of empty seats to armchair viewers.
On the other side of the coin, the LFP has come under fire from supporters’ associations for introducing Friday night and Monday night football, from which clubs competing in Europe are exempt. Valencia are also spared the much-maligned slots due to a separate television deal, which leaves sides such as Celta, Betis and Deportivo to regularly fill the vacancy.
Before the new format was introduced last season games were played in blocks at the weekend, primarily at 17:00 with a game aired on terrestrial television on Saturday night. Now, with the Asian markets in mind, there is an early Sunday kick-off and every game is scheduled separately to maximize television audiences.
As well as the inconvenience of, for example, taking your children to watch football at 10pm on a weekday there are factors, not least the quality of the opposition and the lap of the climatic gods: games in Spain's northern regions are regularly subject to some inclement conditions and Celta's game against Real Madrid was postponed last season during a storm when part of the Balaídos roof blew off. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate in Spain still stands at 17.6 percent as of April 2017 as the country continues its slow recovery from a crippling recession.
Celta lower ticket prices for Getafe game
So far Celta’s two home games have been scheduled at 18:15 on a Saturday and 18:30 on a Sunday. A 21:00 kick-off on Thursday when they face Getafe is unlikely to buck the recent trend and the club have dropped ticket prices in an attempt to fill the stands. The Celestes' next home game is against Girona on Friday September 29 at 21:00.
In the meantime the LFP continues to announce fixtures a few weeks before they are due to take place, which has led to a historical absence of travelling fans in Spanish stadiums – something that would help to make up the numbers in one of the most poorly populated away-end leagues in Europe.