Real Madrid lose case against LaLiga over €2bn CVC deal

A court has dismissed a lawsuit brought by Real Madrid and Athletic Club which claimed that LaLiga’s CVC investment deal was illegal.

The “Boost LaLiga” project — signed in December 2021 — saw LaLiga and its clubs receive almost €2 billion ($2.17bn) from the private equity firm CVC in exchange for an 8.2% share of the league’s income from broadcasting and sponsorship rights for the next 50 years.

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An initial 37 of Spain’s 42 first and second-division clubs voted in favour of the agreement. Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic led opposition to the plan and were subsequently excluded from its terms.

They then opted to sue LaLiga — with backing from the Spanish football federation (RFEF) — arguing that the agreement was illegal and violated clubs’ rights, although Barcelona and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) later withdrew from the case.

“LaLiga has today learned of the ruling from the Court of First Instance No.15 dismissing the lawsuit filed by Athletic Club and Real Madrid CF against LaLiga,” the league said in a statement on Tuesday.

“The ruling confirms the legality of the agreement with CVC, stating that it complies with the legal and statutory frameworks in force. Furthermore, it stresses that neither LaLiga’s statutes nor the applicable regulations for the management and administration of the audiovisual and economic rights of sports organisations were violated. This implies that the operation was carried out in compliance with the powers and procedures established in law and LaLiga’s statutes.

“The ruling also concludes that the transaction with CVC does not infringe on the rights of the participating LaLiga clubs, arguing that the agreements reached ‘were made in a manner that respects the rights and obligations of the clubs, without imposing unfair conditions on them or significantly altering their participation and rights within the competition.’

“It also recognises LaLiga’s autonomy to manage and administer its commercial and audiovisual rights, as long as this is done within the existing legal framework. This includes the ability to carry out financial and commercial operations that are considered beneficial to its members collectively, while always respecting the applicable laws and regulations, as is the case with Boost LaLiga.”

The agreement with CVC was first announced in August 2021, and approved by the league’s general assembly four months later.

The majority of the €1.994bn was earmarked for investment in infrastructure, technology and internationalisation, with 15% allowed to be spent on transfers and another 15% on debt reduction.

Three-quarters of that sum have now been received with the rest due by the end of 2024.

Madrid, Barcelona and Athletic argued that the deal was “an illegal transaction that causes irreparable damage to the Spanish football sector as a whole” and proposed an alternative investment package, which they said offered better value for money.

LaLiga and Real Madrid have regularly clashed over the league’s management of its TV rights in recent years, with the club bringing frequent legal actions against the organisation.

In his speech to the club’s AGM in November 2023, president Florentino Perez accused LaLiga of “attacking the club’s financial wealth” and said he would “take measures so that Real Madrid and its members, as owners, have the ability to protect our club.”