Real Madrid’s world record £86m signing of Gareth Bale from Tottenham could come under investigation from the European Commission after concerns were raised over the role of bailed-out Spanish banks.
Conservative Daniel Dalton and two fellow MEPs have formally asked the Commission to probe the 2013 deal in light of leaked documents purporting to relate to what remains football’s biggest ever transfer.
An alleged copy of Bale’s Real contract indicates that Tottenham were issued promissory notes to cover future instalments of the fee, which Spurs then sold on to Spanish banks, who assumed the risk.
Dalton has now urged the Commission to confirm whether that was indeed the case, meaning that the liability would be indirectly placed upon Spanish and European taxpayers.
“We just want to find out whether this is effectively state aid,” he told City A.M. “We are not intending to go after Real Madrid or anything like that; we’re trying to find out what has happened to European taxpayers’ money through the bailout, and secondly whether this is state aid which is effectively giving one club an advantage.”
There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Real, who are the world’s richest club with annual turnover of £439m, Tottenham, or Wales forward Bale, who has scored 52 goals in 109 games since moving to Spain.
The Commission is obliged to respond to Dalton, who is joined in tabling the question by Belgian MEP Sander Loones and Spanish MEP Ramon Tremosa, within a six-week timeframe. It can issue fines if it decides state aid rules have been broken.
“I would hope that they do take an interest. I expect them to research their reply and come back to me with proper evidence,” he added. “They have been working a lot with regards to rules governing the finances of football clubs anyway, and I would be very disappointed if they didn’t come back with a thorough investigation into this.”
Former Dutch MEP Derk Jan Eppink queried the role of bailed-out Spanish banks in the Bale transfer at the time and named Bankia as one of those involved in financing the deal.
That is one of the details Dalton has sought clarity on. Bankia received €18bn (£14bn) of the €41bn (£32bn) the European Union channelled into saving stricken Spanish financial institutions.
“There is enough there to ask the question,” he said. “And actually all we’re doing is asking the question.”