Soccer-Row deepens over La Liga private equity deal

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: La Liga President Javier Tebas poses before an online interview with Reuters at the La Liga headquarters in Madrid

MADRID (Reuters) -Squabbling between Spanish football's power brokers over a tie-up between its elite leagues and a private equity firm intensified on Wednesday, as the body representing lower-tier professional sides joined the two biggest in rejecting it.

La Liga, which covers the top two soccer divisions, announced last week it would get 2.7 billion euros ($3.2 billion) of funding from CVC Capital Partners, with 90% of that going to clubs and the firm in return getting 10% of La Liga's revenue and a 10% stake in most of its business.

On Wednesday, as two sources said Goldman Sachs would contribute a 1 billion euro syndicated loan to CVC's planned investment, Spanish Football Association RFEF said it was firmly opposed.

RFEF, which is responsible for professional and amateur clubs from the third division downwards, said it would widen inequalities and make the "reasonable development" of the professional game in Spain impossible.

That drew an angry response from La Liga president Javier Tebas, who suggested the Spanish FA had not properly considered the proposal. "Of course, they don't fail to attack La Liga ... even if they haven't studied the documents," he said in a tweet.

La Liga, which had said the deal would strengthen its clubs and give them funds to spend on new infrastructure and modernisation projects as well as increasing how much they could spend on players' salaries. Later on Wednesday said it strongly rejected the RFEF's criticisms.

It said it had provided the Spanish FA with all relevant documentation and hosted a meeting at which the RFEF did not raise any objections.

The RFEF also said it had also noted "various complaints and comments" from first and second division clubs.

On Tuesday, Real Madrid said they would launch civil and criminal lawsuits against Tebas and CVC Capital Partners' chief Javier de Jaime Guijarro over the deal.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said it would have allowed the Catalan giants to re-sign superstar Lionel Messi, who on Tuesday joined Paris St Germain.

Despite that, the club were opposed to a deal that would be tantamount to "mortgaging the club's rights over the next half-century", he added.

($1 = 0.8536 euros)

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru and Joseph Walker; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Kirsten Donovan and John Stonestreet)

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