Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

The Müller case: Revisiting the compatibility of fixed term contracts in football with EU Law. By Kester Mekenkamp

Editor’s note: Kester Mekenkamp is an LL.M. student in European Law at Leiden University and an intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

On 17 February 2016, the Landesarbeitsgericht Rheinland-Pfalz delivered its highly anticipated decision in the appeal proceedings between German goalkeeper Heinz Müller and his former employer, German Bundesliga club Mainz 05.[1] The main legal debate revolved around the question (in general terms) whether the use of a fixed term contract in professional football is compatible with German and EU law. 

In first instance (see our earlier blog posts, here and here), the Arbeitsgericht Mainz had ruled that the ‘objective reasons’ provided in Section 14 (1) of the German Part-time and Fixed-term Employment Act (Gesetz über Teilzeitarbeit und befristete Arbeitsverträge, “TzBfG”), the national law implementing EU Directive 1999/70/EC on fixed-term work, were not applicable to the contract between Müller and Mainz 05 and therefore could not justify the definite nature of that contract.[2] In its assessment the court devoted special attention to the objective reason relating to the nature of the work, declining justifications based thereupon.[3] Tension rose and the verdict was soon labelled to be able to have Bosman-like implications, if held up by higher courts.[4] More...

The BGH’s Pechstein Decision: A Surrealist Ruling



The decision of the Bundesgerichtshof (BGH), the Highest Civil Court in Germany, in the Pechstein case was eagerly awaited. At the hearing in March, the Court decided it would pronounce itself on 7 June, and so it did. Let’s cut things short: it is a striking victory for the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and a bitter (provisory?) ending for Claudia Pechstein. The BGH’s press release is abundantly clear that the German judges endorsed the CAS uncritically on the two main legal questions: validity of forced CAS arbitration and the independence of the CAS. The CAS and ISU are surely right to rejoice and celebrate the ruling in their respective press releases that quickly ensued (here and here). At first glance, this ruling will be comforting the CAS’ jurisdiction for years to come. Claudia Pechstein’s dire financial fate - she faces up to 300 000€ in legal fees – will serve as a powerful repellent for any athlete willing to challenge the CAS.More...



The EU State aid and Sport Saga: Hungary revisited? (Part 2)

On 18 May 2016, the day the first part of this blog was published, the Commission said in response to the Hungarian MEP Péter Niedermüller’s question, that it had “not specifically monitored the tax relief (…) but would consider doing so. The Commission cannot prejudge the steps that it might take following such monitoring. However, the Commission thanks (Niedermüller) for drawing its attention to the report of Transparency International.”

With the actual implementation in Hungary appearing to deviate from the original objectives and conditions of the aid scheme, as discussed in part 1 of this blog, a possible monitoring exercise by the Commission of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme seems appropriate. The question remains, however, whether the Commission follows up on the intent of monitoring, or whether the intent should be regarded as empty words. This second part of the blog will outline the rules on reviewing and monitoring (existing) aid, both substantively and procedurally. It will determine, inter alia, whether the State aid rules impose an obligation upon the Commission to act and, if so, in what way. More...

The Rise and Fall of FC Twente

Yesterday, 18 May 2016, the licensing committee of the Dutch football federation (KNVB) announced its decision to sanction FC Twente with relegation to the Netherland’s second (and lowest) professional league. The press release also included a link to a document outlining the reasons underlying the decision. For those following the saga surrounding Dutch football club FC Twente, an unconditional sanction by the licensing committee appeared to be only a matter of time. Yet, it is the sanction itself, as well as its reasoning, that will be the primary focus of this short blog.More...

The EU State aid and Sport Saga: Hungary’s tax benefit scheme revisited? (Part 1)

The tax benefit scheme in the Hungarian sport sector decision of 9 November 2011 marked a turning point as regards the Commission’s decisional practice in the field of State aid and sport. Between this date and early 2014, the Commission reached a total of ten decisions on State aid to sport infrastructure and opened four formal investigations into alleged State aid to professional football clubs like Real Madrid and Valencia CF.[1] As a result of the experience gained from the decision making, it was decided to include a Section on State aid to sport infrastructure in the 2014 General Block Exemption Regulation. Moreover, many people, including myself, held that Commission scrutiny in this sector would serve to achieve better accountability and transparency in sport governance.[2]

Yet, a recent report by Transparency International (TI), published in October 2015, raises questions about the efficiency of State aid enforcement in the sport sector. The report analyzes the results and effects of the Hungarian tax benefit scheme and concludes that:

“(T)he sports financing system suffers from transparency issues and corruption risks. (…) The lack of transparency poses a serious risk of collusion between politics and business which leads to opaque lobbying. This might be a reason for the disproportionateness found in the distribution of the subsidies, which is most apparent in the case of (football) and (the football club) Felcsút.”[3]

In other words, according to TI, selective economic advantages from public resources are being granted to professional football clubs, irrespective of the tax benefit scheme greenlighted by the Commission or, in fact, because of the tax benefit scheme. More...

International and European Sports Law – Monthly Report – April 2016. By Marine Montejo

Editor’s note: This report compiles all relevant news, events and materials on International and European Sports Law based on the daily coverage provided on our twitter feed @Sportslaw_asser. You are invited to complete this survey via the comments section below, feel free to add links to important cases, documents and articles we might have overlooked.  


The Headlines

This month saw the conflict between FIBA Europe and the Euroleague (more precisely its private club-supported organizing body, Euroleague Commercial Assets or ‘ECA’) becoming further entrenched. This dispute commenced with FIBA creating a rival Basketball Champions League, starting from the 2016-2017 season with the hope to reinstate their hold over the organization of European championships. The ECA, a private body that oversees the Euroleague and Eurocup, not only decided to maintain its competitions but also announced it would reduce them to a closed, franchise-based league following a joint-venture with IMG. In retaliation, FIBA Europe suspended fourteen federations of its competition (with the support of FIBA) due to their support for the Euroleague project.More...


The boundaries of the “premium sports rights” category and its competition law implications. By Marine Montejo

Editor’s note: Marine Montejo is a graduate from the College of Europe in Bruges and is currently an Intern at the ASSER International Sports Law Centre.

In its decisions regarding the joint selling of football media rights (UEFA, Bundesliga, FA Premier league), the European Commission insisted that premium media rights must be sold through a non-discriminatory and transparent tender procedure, in several packages and for a limited period of time in order to reduce foreclosure effects in the downstream market. These remedies ensure that broadcasters are able to compete for rights that carry high audiences and, for pay TV, a stable number of subscriptions. In line with these precedents, national competition authorities have tried to ensure compliance with remedy packages. The tipping point here appears to be the premium qualification of sport rights on the upstream market of commercialization of sport TV rights.

This begs the question: which sport TV rights must be considered premium? More...

Guest Blog - Mixed Martial Arts (MMA): Legal Issues by Laura Donnellan

Editor's note: Laura Donnellan is a lecturer at University of Limerick. You can find her latest publications here.


Introduction

On Tuesday the 12th of April, João Carvalho passed away in the Beaumont Hospital after sustaining serious injuries from a mixed martial arts (MMA) event in Dublin on the previous Saturday. The fighter was knocked out in the third round of a welterweight fight against Charlie Ward. Aside from the tragic loss of life, the death of Carvalho raises a number of interesting legal issues. This opinion piece will discuss the possible civil and criminal liability that may result from the untimely death of the Portuguese fighter.

It is important to note at the outset that MMA has few rules and permits wrestling holds, punching, marital arts throws and kicking. MMA appears to have little regulation and a lack of universally accepted, standardised rules. There is no international federation or governing body that regulates MMA. It is largely self-regulated. MMA is not recognised under the sports and governing bodies listed by Sport Ireland, the statutory body established by the Sport Ireland Act 2015 which replaced the Irish Sports Council. MMA is considered a properly constituted sport so long as the rules and regulations are adhered to, there are appropriate safety procedures, the rules are enforced by independent referees, and it appropriately administered.

The Acting Minister for Sport, Michael Ring, has called for the regulation of MMA. Currently there are no minimum requirements when it comes to medical personnel; nor are there any particular requirements as to training of medical personnel. The promoter decides how many doctors and paramedics are to be stationed at events. In February 2014 Minister Ring wrote to 17 MMA promoters in Ireland requesting that they implement safety precautions in line with those used by other sports including boxing and rugby.

Despite this lack of regulation, this does not exempt MMA from legal liability as the discussion below demonstrates.More...



Guest Blog - The Role of Sport in the Recognition of Transgender and Intersex Rights by Conor Talbot

Editor's note: Conor Talbot is a Solicitor at LK Shields Solicitors in Dublin and an Associate Researcher at Trinity College Dublin. He can be contacted at ctalbot@tcd.ie, you can follow him on Twitter at @ConorTalbot and his research is available at www.ssrn.com/author=1369709. This piece was first published on the humanrights.ie blog.

Sport is an integral part of the culture of almost every nation and its ability to shape perceptions and influence public opinion should not be underestimated.  The United Nations has highlighted the potential for using sport in reducing discrimination and inequality, specifically by empowering girls and women.  Research indicates that the benefits of sport include enhancing health and well-being, fostering empowerment, facilitating social inclusion and challenging gender norms.

In spite of the possible benefits, the successful implementation of sport-related initiatives aimed at gender equity involves many challenges and obstacles.  Chief amongst these is the way that existing social constructs of masculinity and femininity — or socially accepted ways of expressing what it means to be a man or woman in a particular socio-cultural context — play a key role in determining access, levels of participation, and benefits from sport.  This contribution explores recent developments in the interaction between transgender and intersex rights and the multi-billion dollar industry that the modern Olympic Games has become.  Recent reports show that transgender people continue to suffer from the glacial pace of change in social attitudes and, while there has been progress as part of a long and difficult journey to afford transgender people full legal recognition through the courts, it seems clear that sport could play an increasingly important role in helping change or better inform social attitudes.More...



Unpacking Doyen’s TPO Deals: The Final Whistle

Footballleaks is now operating since nearly half a year and has already provided an incredible wealth of legal documents both on TPO (and in particular Doyen’s contractual arrangements) and on the operation of the transfer system in football (mainly transfer agreements, player contracts and agents contracts). This constant stream of information is extremely valuable for academic research to get a better grip on the functioning of the transfer market. It is also extremely relevant for the shaping of public debates and political decisions on the regulation of this market. As pointed out on the footballleaks website, it has triggered a series of press investigations in major European news outlets.

In this blog, I want to come to a closure on our reporting on Doyen’s TPO deals. In the past months, we have already dealt with the specific cases of FC Twente and Sporting Lisbon, reviewed Doyen’s TPO deals with Spanish clubs, as well as discussed the compatibility of the TPO ban with EU law. In the Sporting Lisbon case, Doyen has since earned an important legal victory in front of the CAS (the ensuing award was just published by Footballleaks). This victory should not be overstated, however, it was not unexpected due to the liberal understanding of the freedom of contract under Swiss law. As such it does not support the necessity of TPO as an investment practice and does not threaten the legality (especially under EU law) of FIFA’s ban.

In our previous blogs on Doyen’s TPO deals we decided to focus only on specific deals, Twente and Sporting Lisbon, or a specific country (Spain). However, nearly six months after the whole footballleaks project started, we can now provide a more comprehensive analysis of the TPO deals signed by Doyen. Though, it is still possible that other, yet unknown, deals would be revealed, I believe that few of Doyen’s TPO agreements are still hidden. Thanks to footballleaks, we now know how Doyen operates, we have a precise idea of its turnover, its return on investments and the pool of clubs with which it signed a TPO agreement. Moreover, we have a good understanding of the contractual structure used by Doyen in those deals. This blog will offer a brief synthesis and analysis of this data.More...





Asser International Sports Law Blog | The EU State aid and sport saga: The Real Madrid Decision (part 2)

Asser International Sports Law Blog

Our International Sports Law Diary
The Asser International Sports Law Centre is part of the T.M.C. Asser Instituut

The EU State aid and sport saga: The Real Madrid Decision (part 2)

This is the second and final part of the ‘Real Madrid Saga’. Where the first part outlined the background of the case and the role played by the Spanish national courts, the second part focuses on the EU Commission’s recovery decision of 4 July 2016 and dissects the arguments advanced by the Commission to reach it. As will be shown, the most important question the Commission had to answer was whether the settlement agreement of 29 July 2011 between the Council of Madrid and Real Madrid constituted a selective economic advantage for Real Madrid in the sense of Article 107(1) TFEU.[1] Before delving into that analysis, the blog will commence with the other pending question, namely whether the Commission also scrutinized the legality of the operation Bernabeú-Opañel under EU State aid law. By way of reminder, this operation consisted of Real Madrid receiving from the municipality the land adjacent to the Bernabéu stadium, while transferring in return €6.6 million, as well as plots of land in other areas of the city. 


The Commission’s ‘pragmatic’ solution regarding the Operation Bernabéu-Opañel

As was explained in part 1 of this blog, during the formal investigation period (i.e. from 18 December 2013 until 4 July 2016), the operation Bernabéu-Opañel (referred to by the Commission as the ‘2011 urban development agreement’) was firstly suspended by the Madrid High Court (31 July 2014) and later completely annulled (2 February 2015) by that same Court. It is worth reiterating that the Court believed there to be a sufficient link between the 2011 settlement agreement and the operation Bernabéu-Opañel in order to examine the agreements together.[2]

The Commission, however, was actually surprisingly brief on this matter. As can be read from paragraphs 79 and 80 from the decision, “(a)s a result of (the judgment of 2 February 2015), the 2011 urban development agreement has been cancelled between the parties. Consequently, that agreement will no longer be implemented so that the Commission assessment of the 2011 urban development agreement has become without object. The present Decision therefore only examines the 2011 settlement agreement under State aid rules”.[3]

From an EU State aid law perspective, declaring the operation Bernabéu-Opañel “without object” makes sense. With the agreement annulled, there has been no transfer of resources from the State to Real Madrid of any sorts, nor could Real Madrid have obtained an economic advantage from an annulled agreement. Therefore, removing all the problematic aspects of the agreement from a State aid perspective. Yet, it does remain slightly ironic that that the ‘standstill obligation’ was applied to an agreement that was later on never analysed by the Commission. True, the subsequent annulment (based solely on Spanish administrative law) made Commission scrutiny redundant, but one does wonder what the Commission would have decided had the Madrid Court not annulled the operation. 


The 2011 settlement agreement under Article 107(1) TFEU

By way of reminder, in the opening decision, the Commission primarily doubted whether:

1) It was impossible for the Council of Madrid to transfer the Las Tablas property to Real Madrid;

2) This legal impossibility automatically led to an obligation for the Council of Madrid to compensate Real Madrid;

3) A market value of the Las Tablas plot of land has been sought;

4) And whether the value of the properties which were transferred to Real Madrid by the 2011 settlement agreement were market conform.[4]

In reaction to the opening decision Spain argued that transferring the plot in Las Tablas was illegal based on the local urban law 9/2001 of 2001, this interpretation was later confirmed by the Spanish High Court in 2004. Yet, this was already the case in 1998 when the Madrid Council agreed to transfer the land to Real Madrid.[5] Given that Real Madrid had legitimate expectations that it was the owner of the land, it has suffered damages as a consequence of the transfer’s invalidity. As a consequence, Real Madrid needed to be compensated by an amount equal to the market value of Las Tablas in 2011, namely €22.693.054,44. Since this sum was calculated on the basis of an objective model set by the Ministry of Economy and Industry[6], Spain considered that it matched the market value and could not constitute State aid.

The economic advantage criterion according to the market economy operator principle

The Commission’s State aid assessment essentially revolved around the question whether the 2011 settlement agreement between the Council of Madrid and Real Madrid resulted in an economic advantage to the benefit of Real Madrid.[7] As is standard Commission practice[8], “to determine whether a particular transaction carried out by a public authority has been carried out in line with normal market conditions, it is necessary to compare the behaviour of that public authority with that of a similarly situated hypothetical “market economic operator” operating under normal market conditions. If the “market economy operator” would have entered into that transaction under similar terms, then the presence of an advantage may be excluded as regards that transaction”.[9] Referring to EU case law[10], the Commission argued that a prudent market operator would carry out his own ex ante assessment on the basis of sound economic and legal evaluations, when entering such transactions. Public authorities cannot claim that evaluations made after the transaction, based on a retrospective finding that it was actually economically rational, like the Madrid Council did in this case, is the course of action that a prudent market operator would take under similar circumstances.[11]

In continuation, the Commission indicated the two criteria it used in order to determine whether the amount of compensation offered to Real Madrid was in line market conditions:

1) The probability that the Madrid Council would be held liable for its inability to perform its contractual obligations;

2) And the maximum extent of its financial exposure resulting from finding such a liability.[12]

Though these criteria are clearly cumulative, it should be noted that the Commission did not support the criteria with a reference to case law, its own decisional practice or documents of (soft) law. Be that as it may, based primarily on these criteria the Commission concluded that a market economy operator in a similar situation to the Madrid Council would not have entered into the 2011 settlement agreement.

As regards the first criteria, the Commission argued that the Madrid Council should have sought legal advice so as to establish the likelihood that it was indeed liable for not performing its contractual obligations. Without legal advice, the Commission found it hard to believe that a prudent market operator would have assumed full legal liability, especially considering “the legal uncertainties surrounding the potential impossibility to perform (the land transaction), the legal consequences of that potential impossibility, and the Madrid Council’s ability to remedy that legal impossibility through other means”.[13] The Commission seems definitely correct in questioning the chain of events that eventually led to the compensation of more than €20 million. Even though, as Spain now claims[14], it was already legally impossible to transfer the land in 1998, why did the Madrid Council sign this agreement in the first place? After the introduction of local urban law 9/2001, shouldn’t the parties have been aware of the legal impossibility at that moment, or in any case after the 2004 judgment of the Madrid High Court? Consequently, why did the Council wait until 2011 before compensating Real Madrid? In paragraphs 103 and 104, the Commission also drew an interesting comparison with the operation Bernabéu-Opañel. Although this latter operation was declared void by a Spanish Court for not being in line with the general interest, it simultaneously shows that reclassifying a terrain from public to private (sport) use is not entirely legally impossible. In other words, by analogy, the plot in Las Tablas could have been reclassified for private use (provided the reclassification served the general interest) and be legally transferred to Real Madrid.

With regard to the second criteria, i.e. the maximum extent of the Madrid Council’s financial exposure resulting from finding such a liability, the Commission firstly argued that the different valuations of 1998 and 2011 of the land in Las Tablas were based on the mistaken assumption that this land could have been transferred in 2011, which, in hindsight appeared to be legally impossible. “Assuming the Madrid Council could not be held liable for that legal impossibility, for which it never solicited legal advice, it is at least arguable that the market value of the plot in its relationship with Real Madrid would be zero, since the land in question cannot be transferred”.[15] On the other hand, and assuming the Madrid Council is liable and Real Madrid had a right to a compensation, this amount should have been way less than €22 million as a Commission-assigned study concluded. Taking into account the Commission’s consideration that the correct parameter for the valuation of the concerned plot is the long-term exploitation of the land for sport use, the study arrived at a valuation in 2011 of €4.275 million.[16]

For all the above reasons, the Commission established that the Madrid Council had not acted as a prudent market operator. It had not sought legal advice before entering the 2011 settlement agreement, and the subsequent compensation granted to Real Madrid too high. In conclusion, by means of the 2011 settlement agreement, a selective economic advantage was granted to Real Madrid and the State aid criteria of Article 107(1) TFEU were fulfilled. As a result, the amount of aid that Spain was required to recover from the football club amounted to €18.418.054,44 (€22.693.054,44 - €4.275.000) plus interests.[17]


The aftermath

On 2 September 2016, the municipality of Madrid officially ordered Real Madrid to repay €20.3 million, an obligation complied with by the club in early November. Nonetheless, the Real Madrid ‘saga’ has not come to an end. In fact, now that Real Madrid’s appeal is registered by the CJEU, it has become clear that it could take several more years until the case is finally closed. The pending questions are; what are the grounds of Real Madrid’s appeal and could the appeal be successful?

As a preliminary remark, neither Spain nor Real Madrid have claimed that the 2011 settlement agreement falls, or could fall, under one of the exceptions of Article 107(3) TFEU. In principle, this does not prevent Real Madrid from advancing a compatibility plea in front of the General Court, even though it did not raise the argument during the formal investigation.[18] Nonetheless, given the Commission’s wide discretion in applying the exceptions of Article 107(3)[19], the review of the legality of its decision is restricted to determining whether the Commission committed a manifest error in its assessment of the facts or misused its powers.[20] Moreover, as the Commission indicates in paragraph 135 of the decision, the aid granted to Real Madrid is considered as operating aid.[21] In other words, the aid releases an undertaking from costs which it would normally have to bear in its day to day activities.[22] Both the Commission and the CJEU have been very reluctant in permitting operating aid since it rarely facilitates the development of certain economic activities without adversely affecting trading conditions.[23]

In a press-release following the Commission’s announcement of its recovery decision, Real Madrid inter alia argued that the valuation method used in the 2011 settlement agreement is the “only objective method, as it is based in the cadastral value, legally obliging for all Spanish City Councils, and therefore is applied in all transaction between City Councils and third parties whether they are public or private”.[24] The Commission’s final decision takes note of the criticism expressed by Real Madrid regarding the Commission-assigned valuation study, especially concerning the (in its eyes erroneous) valuation method used for the study.[25] Though the Commission rebutted Real Madrid’s criticism[26], it will be up to the General Court of the EU (and potentially later the Court of Justice) to decide whether the Madrid Council used the correct valuation method when determining the 2011 value of las Tablas. This will not be completely new territory for the General Court, given the rich jurisprudence available on valuation methods.[27] As regards the standard of review applied by the General Court, Conor Quigley argues that “where the Commission is found by the Court to have committed a sufficient error of assessment, the decision will be annulled”.[28] It is settled EU case law, that the valuation method must be based on the available objective, verifiable and reliable data, which should be sufficiently detailed and should reflect the economic situation at the time at which the transaction was decided, taking into account the level of risk and future expectations.[29] The General Court remains, however, entitled to fully review and assess the valuation methods presented by the Commission and the interested parties.[30]

The Real Madrid case is too complex and intertwined to draw definitive conclusions on the possible outcome of the appeal. Nonetheless, the thorough State aid assessment conducted by the Commission in its decision should not be underestimated. This will be a tough “legal match” on an entirely new turf for Real Madrid.



[1] By way of reminder, Article 107(1) TFEU reads: “Save as otherwise provided in the Treaties, any aid granted by a Member State or through State resources in any form whatsoever which distorts or threatens to distort competition by favouring certain undertakings or the production of certain goods shall, in so far as it affects trade between Member States, be incompatible with the internal market”.

[2] See Oskar van Maren, “The EU State aid and sport saga: The Real Madrid Decision (part 1)”, Asser International Sports Law Blog, 15 November 2016.

[3] Commission decision SA.33753 of 4 July 2016 on the State aid implemented by Spain for Real Madrid CF, paras. 79 and 80.

[4] Commission decision SA.33753 of 18 December 2013, State aid– Spain Real Madrid CF, paras. 41-43.

[5] Interestingly enough, Spain’s comments contradict Real Madrid’s comments, according to which, as can be read in paragraph 46 of the decision, Spanish law did allow Las Tablas to be reclassified for private use in 1998 and beyond until a specific law that prohibits that was introduced in 2001.

[6] Commission decision SA.33753 of 4 July 2016 on the State aid implemented by Spain for Real Madrid CF, paras. 29-36.

[7] Since it was clear State resources were transferred, that the measure was selective and that it at least had the potential of affecting intra-Union trade, the other criteria of Article 107(1) TFEU were only briefly discussed.

[8] See also e.g. Commission decision SA.41613 of 4 July 2016, on the measure implemented by the Netherlands with regard to the professional football club PSV in Eindhoven.

[9] Commission decision SA.33753 of 18 December 2013, State aid– Spain Real Madrid CF, para. 88.

[10] Case C-124/10 P Commission v. EDF ECLI:EU:C:2012:318, paras. 84, 85 and 105.

[11] Commission decision SA.33753 of 18 December 2013, State aid– Spain Real Madrid CF, para. 89.

[12] Ibid, para. 92.

[13] Ibid, para. 94.

[14] Ibid, para. 29.

[15] Ibid, para. 108.

[16] Ibid, paras. 111-112.

[17] Ibid, paras. 139-142.

[18] See for example T-110/97 Kneissl Dachstein v Commission ECLI:EU:T:1999:244, para. 102.

[19]Case T-304/08 Smurfit Kappa Group v Commission ECLI:EU:T:2012:351, para. 90.

[20] Conor Quigley, “European State Aid Law and Policy”, Hart Publishing, 3rd edition (2015), pages 738-739. See also for example T-20/03 Kahla/Thüringen Porzellan v Commission, ECLI:EU:T:2008:395, para. 115.

[21] Commission decision SA.33753 of 18 December 2013, State aid– Spain Real Madrid CF, para. 135.

[22] See for example Case C-172/03 Heiser ECLI:EU:C:2005:130, para. 55.

[23] Quigley, page 276.

[24] Real Madrid further found it surprising that the Commission used a valuation made by an architect’s office in Barcelona to dictate their decision. Though many will find this comment by Real Madrid rather amusing, it once again shows that the rivalry between the two clubs (and cities) far exceeds the performances on a football field.

[25] Commission decision SA.33753 of 18 December 2013, State aid– Spain Real Madrid CF, para. 89.

[26] Ibid, paras. 119-128.

[27] See for example T-366/00 Scott v Commission ECLI:EU:T:2007:99; and C-239/09 Seydaland Vereinigte Agrarbetriebe ECLI:EU:C:2010:778.

[28] Quigley, page 737. Based on the case law of the Court, it is not entirely clear whether a “sufficient error of assessment” by the Commission is enough for the Court to annul the decision.

[29] T-366/00 Scott v Commission ECLI:EU:T:2007:99, para. 158. See also Commission Notice C 262/1 of 19 July 2016 on the notion of State aid as referred to in Article 107(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, para. 101.

[30] Case T-274/01 Valmont v Commission ECLI:EU:T:2004:266.

Comments (1) -

  • Florentino Perez

    2/11/2017 9:19:30 AM |

    According to the ecological movement (EeA), the advantage for Real in the transfer of the plots in the Opanel district in exchange for the super prime area in front of the Bernabeu Stadium was approx. €60 million which is not unreasonable considering the actual market prices in both areas. That was the lion's share of the aid. Add this to the three years of delay in the stadium redevelopment (no IPIC naming rights at €20-25 million a year and no increase in the match day revenue) and you will see the that the Saga has been ruinous for Real that has been overtaken in the meantime by United and Barca in the revenue league.

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