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Dec 30 newsbag: Bids for Valencia, EU investigating Spanish soccer, Musacchio staying at Villarreal

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Manuel Queimadelos Alonso

Matters Villarreal: Much discussion in recent weeks on this site about Mateo Musacchio's contract. Various publications have now corrected themselves (ahem!) and reported Sr. Roig's statement: Musacchio has a contract through 2018, a recission clause of €50 million, and unless someone wants to pay that, we're not interested in selling. As I have mentioned before, the situation is complicated by the ongoing dispute between Villarreal and River Plate, which includes the percentage of fees River would get if Musacchio were transferred, but it appears to be a moot point given our desire to retain him and his contract extension.

Some suggestion Bruno may miss the Rayo match with the injury that forced him off against Sevilla: http://www.elperiodicomediterraneo.com/noticias/deportes/bruno-tiene-dificil-jugar-vallecas-vuelta-paron_852955.html

And news of a native vila-realenc, and sometime Villarreal player, César Arzo: the central defender has joined Real Zaragoza. Good luck to him.

Matters elsewhere: If you haven't been keeping up with the news from our neighbors in the Mestalla, Bankia has put Valencia CF up for sale. Club president Salvo, after a bizarre news conference where he said the club wasn't for sale, has now reversed himself, and supports Singaporean businessman Peter Lim's bid to purchase the club.

Lim is an interesting character--he tried to buy Liverpool, but their board chose Fenway Sports Ventures instead; he was also linked with Atletico Madrid this summer. Supposedly he would put €400m into the club, enough to pay off Bankia and provide funds for investment in the team, though not to finish their new stadium. Bankia, for its part, has said it will not be rushed into making any decision (Lim gave a 30-day deadline, purportedly so the club could be active in the January transfer market) and has also said there are other interested parties besides Lim.

It's hard to know what will happen here, especially since the European Union has opened an investigation into a number of Spanish football clubs who may have received illegal aid from governments. This was announced a couple of weeks ago, and the league didn't help itself by a hastily called press conference in which league president Tebas, the presidents of Real MAdrid and Barcelona (I mean, who cares about anybody else!) and the Spanish minister for sport all claimed Spain is a victim of its sporting success, and there is some sort of "campaign against Spain".

There are basically three sets of allegations or areas being examined. The first concerns Barcelona, Real Madrid, Athletic Bilbao, and Osasuna, all of whom received (for "historical reasons") an exemption from the requirement to convert to a SAD (a form of corporation). To be honest, I have no idea if this exemption has resulted in a monetary windfall or not--I doubt it, but it could be the tax rates are different for them which could be considered some sort of advantage provided by the state.

The second is specific to Real Madrid, and involves the transfer of a parcel of land near the Bernabeu to the club from the government. The land was given a very low value at the time of the deal (1998), but is now considered to be worth much more--50 times more.

The third involves Valencian Community clubs Elche, Hercules and Valencia, all of whom received loans guaranteed by the regional government and subsequently "forgiven". This appears to me to be the most obvious case of state aid among the three, and could require the clubs to pay back the money.

El Pais commented that the response of the Spanish authorities, basically claiming there was a conspiracy against Spanish soccer, wasn't constructive, especially given Spain's reputation for corruption.

Joaquin Almunia, European competition commissioner and himself a socio of Athletic Club, gave an interview with AS in which he attempted to explain things. Even in translation, the confrontational tone of the interviewer is apparent:

"The clubs may have to give back state aid"--AS

This one will run for awhile. I have seen some articles saying the commission will also look at clubs that are effectively getting a deferral of taxes (Atletico Madrid being the key one) but I have not seen that confirmed.