Real Madrid threatens CVC with legal action over $3.2bn private equity stake deal

The football club's board agrees to initiate both civil and criminal proceedings to prevent the La Liga deal from going ahead

CVC Capital Partners’ deal to buy a stake in Spain’s top football league may end up in court as one of the country’s most storied clubs said it would take legal action against the private equity firm.

Real Madrid’s board of directors agreed to initiate both civil and criminal proceedings against CVC, the club said on Tuesday.

The move follows CVC’s agreement last week to invest €2.7 billion ($3.2bn) in La Liga in return for a 10 per cent stake in a new company housing all of the Spanish football league’s businesses, subsidiaries and joint ventures. CVC did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Both Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, the fan-owned clubs with the highest number of Champions League and La Liga trophies, opposed the deal last week. Real Madrid said this agreement, “by way of a misleading structure, expropriates 10.95 per cent of the clubs’ audiovisual rights for the next 50 years, in breach of the law”.

Barcelona president Joan LaPorta said that the club could have renewed the contract of Lionel Messi if it had backed the deal, but that doing so would affect the club’s broadcast rights for decades.

The meeting to decide whether the agreement with CVC goes ahead will take place on August 12. La Liga needs 22 out of 42 first and second division clubs for the signing to happen. The only other team to oppose the deal so far is Athletic Bilbao, according to media reports.

Real Madrid will also seek legal action against La Liga president Javier Tebas and CVC managing partner for Spain and Italy Javier de Jaime.

La Liga “reiterates that it has all the favourable legal reports that confirm maximum compliance with the legal system”, the Spanish league said on Tuesday.

It also said that Real Madrid directors are trying to prevent other teams from expressing their view on the deal by use of coercion and threats.

The Spanish league said that Real Madrid had filed 51 legal actions over recent years, “a majority of which have been won by La Liga” – including some related to broadcasting rights.

“CVC presented La Liga [with] a transaction that aims to create value for Spanish football as a whole,” representatives for the private equity firm said.

Real Madrid’s announcement is “disproportionate” and lacks a legal basis, and CVC would reserve the right to take any action it deems necessary, it said.

The legal threat is the latest episode in the tussle between La Liga and its most highly decorated teams after both Real Madrid and Barcelona joined forces with other top European clubs – including Chelsea and Italy’s Juventus – in a failed attempt to create a SuperLeague.

The teams promoting the project were looking to secure higher revenue but the plan was shelved after adverse reaction from fans, politicians and their respective domestic leagues, including La Liga, which argued it would have a negative effect on the game as a whole.

While CVC has successfully invested in sports including motor bike racing, volleyball and rugby, it has struggled with previous football deals. The private equity firm tried and failed to invest in Germany’s Bundesliga and Italy’s Serie A.

Updated: August 11th 2021, 2:34 PM
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