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Finance

Mallorca buoyed by breakthrough in Estadi Lluís Sitjar saga

Featured image credit: RCD Mallorca

RCD Mallorca has hailed the striking of an agreement to unblock the sale of the land on which the Spanish LaLiga football club’s former home, Estadi Lluís Sitjar, had sat.

If the agreement is concluded, it will end a dispute that has rumbled on for over two decades, when Mallorca left the Lluís Sitjar, which opened in 1945, to move to what is now known as Visit Mallorca Estadi, owned by Palma City Council and built for the staging of the 1999 Summer Universiade multi-sport event.

The agreement has been struck between the Council, otherwise known as the Cort, the club and the Lluís Sitjar Co-Owners Association. The Cort has agreed to acquire two plots of land from the Association, whose membership numbers around 400, and the club in a deal valued at €13m (£11.4m/$13.1m).

Through the agreement, Mallorca will offer Association members a lifetime pass to attend games at Visit Mallorca Estadi. Deputy Mayor, Neus Truyol, said: “We appreciate the involvement of all parties to reach this important agreement. We hope that the majority of co-owners will agree to sell.

“For Lluís Sitjar to be public would be great news for the city, creating facilities and green areas for everyone. After so many years, cooperation and dialogue between the City Council and the co-owners was key to finding a solution to an entrenched problem. With this agreement, everyone wins.”

Mallorca is expected to receive around €3.4m through the agreement, funds it will invest in ongoing redevelopment work at its current home. Mallorca was given the go-ahead in April to revamp the Visit Mallorca Estadi.

The club presented its plans to upgrade the stadium in January. Mallorca feels the stadium must evolve and adapt to “changing times”. The initial phase of the project will cost €5.4m and will centre on a new structure in the lower part of the south stand at the Visit Mallorca Estadi. The wider project is expected to cost around €20m and the renovation will be funded by the LaLiga Impulso investment partnership.

The new area of the stand will bring fans just 8.5 metres from the pitch and eliminate the athletics track. The capacity of the stadium will be around 23,000 once the work is complete. The entire project is slated to be finished by 2024, with the second phase to focus on a remodelling of the stadium’s north stand. This work is set to be carried out during the 2022-23 season.

Commenting on the Lluís Sitjar agreement, Afonso Díaz, business chief executive of RCD Mallorca, said: “It is the beginning of an agreement that involves closing a story of more than 20 years. On the one hand, it is a great boon for the city with a large green area and public facilities that will improve the day-to-day lives of the palmesanos.

“For us it is also very important to solve a matter that occupied and worried us and that we have always wanted to solve. All those who put their grain of sand to grow and have a football field like Es Fortí now have a solution that means continuing with the bond that their ancestors signed with the club in the 40s.

“For the club, it means solving an issue from the past and looking to the future with excitement. We are betting 100% on our stadium and to have a football field adapted to the 21st century that is a world reference.”