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.

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

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory