Real Madrid and Barcelona's privileged status set to remain... for now

European Ombudsman recommends that EC competition office reach decision as soon as possible on case of Spanish giants' status as member-owned clubs

The European Commission is still unable to give any date for a decision on the legality of Real Madrid and Barcelona's privileged status as membership-owned clubs, despite a four-year investigation that has so far exceeded all deadlines.

The Independent has revealed that the European Ombudsman, the independent adjudicator for European institutions, had recommended that the EC competition office reach a decision as soon as possible on the case of Madrid and Barcelona's status as member-owned clubs, which entitles them to benefits unavailable to their rivals.

The legislation, passed by the Spanish Government in 1990, potentially constitutes illegal state aid and means that, along with Osasuna and Athletic Bilbao, Spanish football's two biggest clubs enjoy a not-for-profit status in law. That gives them tax benefits and the right to run affiliate professional basketball teams, denied to all other clubs in the top two divisions who have been obliged by law to convert to plcs.

In spite of promptings from the European Ombudsman, based in Strasbourg, the competition office can still give no indication as to when it will reach a decision on the case, which could result in Madrid and Barcelona losing their right to be owned by members, or "socios", and their being reconstituted as plcs.

Yet the competition office has confirmed to The Independent that it is in the advanced stages of an investigation into five Dutch clubs over illegal state aid. PSV Eindhoven, NEC Nijmegen, Willem II, Den Bosch and MVV Maastricht all face serious allegations of receiving illegal state aid from their local municipal authorities, mainly on land deals.

In this instance even commissioner Joaquin Almunia has weighed in, saying that the competition office had "doubts" about whether the five clubs had kept to the rules on state aid over the years in question, 2010 and 2011. Almunia is yet to comment publicly about the case involving Madrid and Barcelona. His competition office received the initial complaint in that case in November 2009.

The office confirmed to The Independent that it had four further investigations running into potential illegal state aid for football clubs, including complaints about Tottenham Hotspur and West Ham. Another concerns a land deal between Real Madrid and Madrid City Council that dates back to 1996.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?