Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao are taking legal action against La Liga over a €2bn private equity deal that league administrators agreed last week.
All but five of the 42 clubs in Spain’s top two divisions signed up to the investment package from CVC Capital Partners, the first of its kind in Europe.
Four clubs – the top-flight trio and Ibiza, according to reports – opted out, while one abstained.
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The deal was “an illegal transaction that causes irreparable damage to the entire Spanish football sector and flagrantly violates the most elementary principles of Spanish sports law and the La Liga statutes,” Real Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao said in a statement.
The agreement, dubbed ‘La Liga Boost’, buys CVC an 8.2% stake in a new company that will get broadcasting revenues and sponsorship rights for 50 years.
It commits clubs to allocating 70 per cent of funds for investments to new infrastructure and modernisation projects. Up to 15 per cent can be used to sign players, with the remaining 15 per cent for reducing debt.
La Liga said it has confirmed the legality of the deal.
“This decision by Real Madrid CF was a foreseeable reaction, given the club’s history of head-on opposition and appeal against any strategic initiative that represents an advance and a boost for the competition and its clubs,” it said in a statement.
La Liga had said the deal would be worth £2.3bn when it was first unveiled in August. The lower figure announced on Friday reflected the opt-outs and will be shared among the participating clubs and paid over a three-year period, La Liga said.
The objecting clubs will not take any share of the CVC investment, though they will continue to receive their allocated share of TV rights money, the league added.
“This is a new milestone in the history of La Liga and its clubs,” La Liga president Javier Tebas said.
“It allows us to continue our transformation towards a global digital entertainment company, improving the competition and enhancing the fan experience.”
Goldman Sachs will contribute with a portion of the funds that CVC will invest in the Spanish football league and recover over 50 years, sources from La Liga and the fund have said.
The CVC deal looked at risk of unravelling last week when Barcelona, Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao proposed an alternative proposal for JPMorgan, Bank of America and HSBC to jointly lend €2bn in exchange for a fixed annual payment of €115m (£97.9m) over 25 years, a document seen by Reuters showed.
Barcelona and Real Madrid were also among the driving forces behind a failed plan to launch a breakaway European Super League earlier this year, and vowed to continue to try to set it up.
CVC has tried to invest in a top European league on two previous occasions, after separate plans with Italy’s Serie A and Germany’s Bundesliga to buy media rights were scrapped earlier this year.
CVC is also lining up preliminary bids for a stake in the French football league’s media rights business, a source told Reuters this week.
CVC has also invested in Formula 1, Moto GP and rugby, and is behind a new commercial venture that is preparing to merge the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
Source: Sky Sports
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