MADRID, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- The European Union on Wednesday opened legal proceedings with the aim of investigation whether seven Spanish clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, had received illegal government aid.
The move confirmed the news advanced by Spanish Foreign Minister, Jose Manuel Garcia Margallo on Monday.
Margallo said that the Spanish government would give its full support to the clubs in question, adding they were totally innocent.
Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Athletic Club Bilbao and Osasuna are to be investigated to see if their status as private clubs gives them an unfair advantage of paying 25 percent tax as opposed to the 30 percent paid by clubs which are classed as SAD (effectively public companies).
The tax regime in the Basque region, which differs from the rest of Spain, means Athletic pay just 21 percent tax
Meanwhile, Madrid are also accused of having received illegal direct or indirect funding.
In the case of Real Madrid's the EU is interested to know why terrain bought by the club from the Madrid city council in 1998 for just 595,000 euros, were then valued at 22 million euros in 2011, three years after the construction bubble in Spain had well and truly burst.
Meanwhile Athletic Club Bilbao President, Josu Urrutia on Tuesday strongly defended the current structure of the club, which like Barcelona, Osasuna and Madrid is effectively owned by its fans or 'socios' as they are known in Spain.
Should the EU force these clubs to change their organization, that would force them to issue shares, which means they would lose that status and run the risk of falling into the hands of one individual or company, who could thus alter the philosophy of the club.
"Ever since our formation, we have worked while following the law. Athletic will continue to belong to its members," assured Urrutia.
Osasuna president, Miguel Archanco also defended his club's position. "We have neither been aided, nor have been subsidized nor have we entered into any type of illegal activity. We have chosen a social regime which is allowed under the law," he said on Wednesday, while Barcelona spokesman, Toni Freixa insisted the club has "never received," public money.