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EU drops probe into sale of Real property

Posted: Tuesday November 9, 2004 3:54PM; Updated: Tuesday November 9, 2004 3:54PM
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BRUSSELS (Reuters) -- The European Commission has dropped its investigation into a controversial property deal by Real Madrid after concluding there was no state aid involved, a Commission spokeswoman said on Tuesday.

Real Madrid's sale of its training grounds to the City of Madrid in 2001 was reported to have netted the Primera Liga club 480 million ($618.2 million).

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This allowed it to wipe out its debts and helped it buy world class players such as David Beckham, Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane and build a new training complex on the city's outskirts.

"I can confirm that the Commission has closed the case after concluding there was no transfer of state resources to the Spanish club," spokeswoman Amelia Torres said.

The European Union executive launched its probe earlier this year following complaints over the property transaction.

The City of Madrid had re-zoned Real Madrid's training grounds for development, vastly increasing its value, and the club then sold the site to the Madrid city council and regional government for office buildings.

The Commission said in March that if the city had paid more than a private purchaser would have, it would amount to a hidden state subsidy and Real would have to pay back the government.

However, EU courts have ruled there has to be a transfer of resources from the state sector to private hands for a transaction to be considered as state aid.

Copyright 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

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