The mayor of Madrid, Ana Botella, yesterday denied that the city council had broken rules on state aid in their land deals with Real Madrid, following The Independent’s reports that the European Commission was investigating contracts between the two parties.
Botella, who is the wife of former Spanish prime minister José Maria Aznar, read a prepared statement at a press conference in Madrid when she was questioned about the issue. She said that there had been “scrupulous respect for the law” when the two parties completed their deal in November 2011 and refused to comment further on the basis that it was the subject of the European Commission investigation.
The issue centres on the Las Tablas land that was part of a compensation deal agreed by Madrid city council with Real Madrid in 1998 and valued then at €421,000.
When it was taken back into the control of the council in 2011, the value placed on it was €22.7m, a 5,400 per cent increase, and in lieu of that sum Real were given two tracts of land around their Bernabeu stadium crucial for development of a shopping mall and hotel.
The Spanish newspaper El Pais said yesterday that sources in the city council suspected that English clubs were behind the complaint to the EC which alerted competitions officials to the potential state aid issue.
El Pais estimated that Real had allegedly benefited by as much as €200m from the deal because while the land they received in the exchange with the council was equal in size, it was worth a greater amount.