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Portuguese league approves expansion to 18 teams
Reuters, March 13th, 2012 3:39PM

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Significant changes are pending in the top division of Portuguese soccer. Its professional league (LPFP) has approved the entry of two additional teams, and its president said it would challenge the current TV rights bargaining model in European courts.

“The league’s council of (club) presidents approved an expansion of the competition to 18 clubs in the 2012-2013 season,” the LPFP said in a statement Monday. To do this the two teams that finish at the bottom this season will not be relegated. The decision, which provoked a heated exchange between club delegates, still needs to be ratified by the Portuguese soccer federation and Portugal’s National Sports Council.

The LPFP also assigned president Mario Figueiredo the task of preparing a complaint to the European Union about the current TV rights bargaining model that privileges bigger clubs.

“This was an historic day, we managed to gather support for a structural question and an eventual complaint to end the monopoly of TV rights,” Figueiredo said He wants rights to league games bargained collectively rather than on a club-by-club basis. Half of the revenues for Portuguese league games currently go to the so-called “big three”; Benfica, Sporting and Porto. Benfica and Porto did not back the proposal for league-wide selling of rights.

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