Barca and Real could face fines as state aid probe gathers pace

Frank Dalleres
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BARCELONA and Real Madrid could be hit with financial penalties after the European Commission began disciplinary action against some of Spain’s biggest football clubs over possible state aid.

Spanish foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo said the EC had begun proceedings against seven clubs over various matters, some of which it has been investigating for four years.

Champions Barcelona, Real Madrid and Basque clubs Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna are under the spotlight because they have been allowed to remain member-owned, non-profit entities – incurring a favourable tax status – while their rivals are obliged to become plcs.

Real and Athletic are also being investigated over deals with local authorities relating to their training ground and new stadium respectively. Hard-up Valencia, Elche and Hercules are being probed over loans and bank guarantees received from local authorities.

The clubs could be forced to pay money back if found to have had illegal state aid. Proceedings are expected to be confirmed tomorrow by competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia but could take months to conclude.