LFP confident over EC investigation

La Liga authorities say they are confident an ongoing European Commission investigation into various types of potentially illegal state aid to Spanish clubs is not a concern.

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The EC is reported to be examining official links to Primera Division clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna, Valencia and Elche, as well as Segunda Division side Hercules, to determine whether any have received illegal government support or preferential tax treatment.

Should the authorities find evidence against any of the clubs involved, sums running into many millions would need to repaid.

The LFP reacted to the latest reports from Brussels by releasing an official statement saying its clubs always stuck to the law of the land.

The statement read: “At this stage, this National League does not have any official knowledge of the possible opening of a case, by the European Institutions, in relation to the above-mentioned official investigations.

“The LFP would like to publicly show its absolute and unconditional support of the clubs and SADs [Public Limited Sports Companies] affiliated to it, in general, and to those under investigation in particular. This association expresses its deep conviction that, at all times, its actions have been in line with the ‘acquis communautaire’ [the common foundation of rights and obligations that binds the Member States of the European Union] and with the Spanish legislation in force at all times.

“The LFP, in its capacity as an organiser of professional Spanish football competitions and representative of all the entities that participate in them, is available to the clubs/affiliated SADs for however many proceedings derived from the above-mentioned investigations may be necessary before the competent authorities.”

In the case of Madrid, Barca, Athletic and Osasuna, the authorities wish to determine whether their tax status as ‘members’ clubs’ owned by their socios gives them an advantage over clubs elsewhere in Spain and Europe run as private businesses, which must pay higher rates.

The EC are also concerned that Madrid and Athletic have received unfair help from local politicians in land deals related to Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu and Valdebebas training facility, and the Bilbao club’s new Estadio San Mames.

Valencia, Elche and Hercules are being looked at to see whether financial and other supports provided to prop up the ailing finances of all three clubs by the regional Valencian government was legal.

Barca president Sandro Rosell reacted to the latest reports by saying his club had nothing to fear.

“I have no idea what punishment they want to give us,” Rosell told Mundo Deportivo. “We have received no help from the state, nor from anyone.”

Spain’s Interior Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo, told El Pais that his administration would back the clubs in any legal battle.

"It is obvious that the government will fight to the end in defence of Spanish clubs, which also form part of Spain’s brand,” Margallo said.