Real Madrid, Athletic Club lose LaLiga Impulso legal battle

A rendering for a proposed new Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán

Featured image credit: Sevilla FC

A rendering for a proposed new Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán

Featured image credit: Sevilla FC

LaLiga has claimed a legal victory in its dispute with Athletic Club and Real Madrid over its strategic venture with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners, which it claims has allowed its member clubs to undertake projects such as stadium work that would have otherwise been “unaffordable” without public funding.

LaLiga today (Tuesday) said Madrid’s Court of First Instance No.15 has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Athletic and Real against the governing body of the top two divisions of Spanish club football. The case concerns LaLiga Impulso, the venture with CVC LaLiga’s general assembly formally ratified in December 2021.

LaLiga Impulso became a major talking point in Spanish football, with heavyweights Real Madrid and FC Barcelona having opted out of the venture. LaLiga’s member clubs in August 2021 initially approved the project for CVC to invest in a new holding company with a focus on commercial ventures, with proceeds designed to allow teams to invest in infrastructure work.

LaLiga Impulso was first unveiled on August 4, 2021 and sees LaLiga give up 10.95% of revenue from its broadcast rights over the next 50 years in exchange for CVC investing in the organisation.

In total, 37 of LaLiga’s 42 clubs originally voted in favour of the project, which represents a total investment of €1.925bn (£1.65bn/$2.09bn) for both sporting and business growth initiatives.

The project carves out the clubs that chose not to participate, but had been attacked by certain clubs who believe it is unconstitutional. Athletic and Real were two of these clubs, with Barcelona having also originally joined in the legal action.

LaLiga said in a statement today: “The ruling confirms the legality of the agreement with CVC, stating that it complies with the legal and statutory frameworks in force. Furthermore, it stresses that neither LaLiga’s statutes nor the applicable regulations for the management and administration of the audiovisual and economic rights of sports organisations were violated.

“This implies that the operation was carried out in compliance with the powers and procedures established in law and LaLiga’s statutes. The procedures followed during the approval and execution of the transaction with CVC are therefore validated as having complied with all statutory and legal requirements, including the necessary votes and approvals by LaLiga’s governing boards.

“The ruling also concludes that the transaction with CVC does not infringe on the rights of the participating LaLiga clubs, arguing that the agreements reached ‘were made in a manner that respects the rights and obligations of the clubs, without imposing unfair conditions on them or significantly altering their participation and rights within the competition’.

“It also recognises LaLiga’s autonomy to manage and administer its commercial and audiovisual rights, as long as this is done within the existing legal framework. This includes the ability to carry out financial and commercial operations that are considered beneficial to its members collectively, while always respecting the applicable laws and regulations, as is the case with LaLiga Impulso.”

Since its introduction, LaLiga Impulso’s membership has risen to 44 clubs due to movement between the leagues. There have also been a number of stadium projects activated in the country, as clubs seek to funnel investment in that direction.

In December, Sevilla presented plans for a new Estadio Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán highlighted by an extensive roof structure and a single tier Gol Norte stand that will house 15,000 fans. The club has long been assessing means to meet rising demand for games at the stadium, its home since 1958.

José María del Nido Carrasco, chief executive of Sevilla, revealed in September that the club’s budget for the stadium revamp had increased from €200m to €350m. December’s presentation put the figure at between €300m and €350m, with between €60m and €80m expected to be received from LaLiga Impulso.

LaLiga added today: “LaLiga welcomes the ruling that once again ratifies the legitimacy of the agreement with CVC, which has the support of 44 signatory clubs.

“The agreement has allowed the clubs to plan investments, without public funding, which would otherwise have been unaffordable and will accelerate their growth by 20 years in terms of investment, infrastructure, internationalisation and professionalisation, among many other aspects.”