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August 2021

Why Tottenham won’t get most of the cash if they sell Bale to Real Mad

By Tony Attwood

In July, after months of prevarication Government in Spain finally revealed that it is owed €663,876,441 in overdue tax by football clubs in the top two divisions.

This is of course just another issue in a country whose economy is in a state somewhat worse that Bongo-Bongo (a country revived by the UK political party UKIP as a symbol of a land whose economy is out of control).

But Spain is not just Bongo-Bongo in Europe, it is also something else.  Because Spain gets European Union bailout grants which are heading towards €100bn.

Now of course this will all be gibberish to the good men of BT Sports who, as reported at the weekend, cannot add 3 plus 3, but for the rest of the population, it is a matter of interest, not least because of this little fact…

That total sum does NOT (may I repeat that, NOT) include four clubs which are exempt from reporting such matters under a 1990 law within which they do not have to operate as public limited companies (the “plc” and “Ltd” companies in the UK) but are “socios” – effectively not controlled by or answerable to the tax authorities!

Now, you may ask, who are these lucky devils (and if you are in business, you might add “and how can I turn my company into one of these?”)

Here’s the answer: Real Madrid, Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna. Tellingly the Government of Spain would not disclose the debt that these four owed the government.  To say the EU is not amused is to put it lightly – not least now the EU is investigating what we might once again call “Spanish Practices”

If you have been a regular reader of Untold you’ll know we’ve been pushing away at the Real Madrid and Barcelona issues since we started, both because most of us associated with the site believe that companies should pay tax, and because it is patently clear that these two clubs have an utterly unfair advantage over other Spanish clubs (not really our concern) and non-Spanish clubs (very much our concern as Arsenal fans).

The issue of Real Madrid and Barcelona is simple.  Spain is broke, the economy is bust, the only job opportunities that are booming are in prostitution, and recorded unemployment is over 26%.  And…

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Barcelona is teetering on the financial brink (as when it failed to pay its players three summers back, and “solved” the crisis by stating that they were banning the use of the colour photocopier).    Real Madrid continues to claim that it can buy players at world record prices, and then pay for this with shirt sales.  (It is a ludicrous assertion of course but dutifully Untold actually did the sums in an article we published when C Ronaldo went to the club, to show how fake the assertion was).

Things are looking bad for Real Mad, as after years of procrastination the issue of state aid for the club is being investigated by the EU, as is the land deal in which effectively a piece of waste land on the edge of the city owned by the club and worth €421,000 in 1998 was effectively exchanged with the Council in 2011 for land worth €22.7m.

Michel Platini managed to get EC competitions commissioner, Joaquin Almunia, himself a Real Madrid fan, to sign the statement making the use of illegal state aid to football clubs as making a club fail FFP arrangements.

In a recent article the Independent newspaper suggested the total debt of clubs in the top league in Spain is €4.1bn – a debt that is utterly unsustainable in terms of interest payments, and totally unrepayable – which by and large loans are supposed to be.  As a result clubs are finding that for the first time in a long time, players want to get out of Spain as everyone waits for more developments of the type we saw when Málaga failed to meet its commitments.   Salamanca has also gone.  Others are on the edge.

TV subscriptions are falling fast, and there is talk of changing the times of TV games to fit in with the Asian market.  Digital+ has lost 15 per cent of subscribers in the last year and Mediapro, which has closed down one of its channels, is 25 per cent down in the last two years.

Of course the clubs are doing everything possible to put a spin on their situation – and the fact that some people actually believe that players like Bale can be paid for in shirt sales shows how gullible some supporters – and indeed journalists – are.

Likewise the fact that Atletico Madrid can put up a silly bid for Santi Cazorla, and have it reported all over the press shows how successful Spanish clubs are at pulling the wool over the bleary eyes of pub-based journalists.   No one mentioned that as the club allegedly put in the bid, they did so from a base of a debt of €180m. Even the sale of  Radamel Falcao to Monaco for €60m didn’t help much since they had already sold the rights to the player in an attempt to stave off closure.

“Investment group participation” as this part selling is known (which is banned in most countries) is now openly used as the only way to meet the Secretary of State for Sport’s requirement that €1,000m to be removed from the top two division’s debt over the next three years.

Valencia (5th last year) owe over €300m.   Malaga are banned from European football and players are starting to take action over unpaid wages.  24 clubs in the top two divisions have entered administration in the past four years.   Sevilla play in the Europa League this year because Rayo Vallecano, who finished above them last season, are banned by Uefa because of their finances.  Deportivo owe €156m, have been relegated and are on the financial cliff edge.   Likewise Racing Santander.

Meanwhile the “Beckham Law” that put foreign players in a low tax bracket has gone, banks (now firmly supervised by the EU as part of the EU loan deal) no longer  lend clubs money.  It is all coming to an end.

So, what of Bale and Real Madrid?   When Arsenal sold Nic Anelka to Real Madrid there were multiple problems in getting the money out of the club.  And that was long before any of this started.   Real Mad will want to pay the Bale money (if the deal goes through) over five years, in the hope that over time all the little local difficulties will have gone, and no one will be looking at their accounts any more.

But there is every chance that this won’t happen, and that Real will start renegotiating its debts early next year.  Because of this it is likely that we are now at the very peak of player prices.  A whole range of factors could reduce prices from next January onwards.


Arsenal Anniversaries: 8 August

  • 8 August 1962: Bristol Select v Arsenal – Joe Baker’s first game.
  • 8 August 1977:  Jimmy Rimmer plays last game v Aldershot in friendly
  • 8 August 2004: Arsenal 3 Man U 1 Charity Shield
  • 8 August 2006: Tomas Rosicky first game v Dinamo Zagreb.
  • 8 August 2011: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain signs from Southampton
  • 8 August 2011.   At AISA AGM Arsenal History Society established as a body in its own right within AISA.
  • 8 August 2012: Park Chu Young given squad number 30

The books…

55 comments to Why Tottenham won’t get most of the cash if they sell Bale to Real Mad

  • Great article. I have mentioned in a reply to another article that Real Madrid are in massive debt and to sell Bale to them and receive payment from them over 5 years when they may not be able to pay it all is a terrible deal. On top of that Real Madrid still owe spurs for Modric.

  • Dear ‘O dear a gooner,telling us what we already known.Like levy would agree to a 5 year hangover of payment,when they still owe Tottenham on Modric.Your attemp at being a Journ’o reporting is about as bloody poor as the Sun and Mirror.

  • Good article only undermined by the unnecessary reference to ” bongo , bongo land ” and all the overtones that go with that . In the light of the recent bank and other scandals maybe we should be looking closer to home .
    However players seeking utopia elsewhere , rather than primarily moving for football reasons should consider the factors raised here. Even Anzi Makhachkala is in trouble . Be warned.

  • James Clayton

    Typical jealous arsenal! Whether we sell Bale or not we are stronger than last season by miles already. You are just weaker so far!

  • There is no end to the gall of Perez, Zidane and Co. They couldn’t even pay upfront for Luka Modric (around a third of the value of the proposed deal for Bale). Indeed, there is still around £20 million that remains unpaid for that transfer, so boasting about being able to smash the world record, in order to buy Gareth bale, a player, buy many accounts, that Madrid doesn’t really NEED, seems to be more about the politics of re-election than one having its basis in commercial reality.

    Your own manager describes the situation as a joke – but you can be assured, not many Tottenham fans find it funny. It;s just another pre-season that has been messed up for us by Real Madrid. By staying put, Bale can, at least, be certain his wages will be paid on time, every time. It’s an absolute given that, when dealing with these people, it is imperative to get as much of the fee upfront as possible – all of it, if necessary.

    When these, technically bankrupt, Spanish clubs are brought into line, hopefully by UEFA but, certainly, by the EU, there will be a lot of desperate scrabbling and shuffling going on. Just as Guus Hiddink saw the writing on the wall, at Anzhi Makhachkala and bailed out a few weeks ago, so too, should Carlo Ancelotti take an occasional peek over his shoulder and have an exit strategy mapped out.

    Tottenham has taken a prudent approach to the Summer market, so far. The first three signings were made from the prescribed budget of £50 million (some £20 million below Monsieur Wenger’s allowance) and further signings are being paid for out of money raised from sales. Selling Bale and getting the right players in exchange, or the right amount of cash upfront, is key to the rest of the window. Either that, or keeping the player and telling Perez to get on his bike. If the latter happens, then you may find yourselves in competition over the signature of Luis Suarez. I have the feeling that some gooners won’t be overly unhappy NOT to sign him…

  • caveman

    Great article Tony, are we looking at a situation where cash ‘up front is not available’ and payment over 5 years could end up in disaster in, just one year when Madrid wouldn’t be able to make the second payment.

  • Well i think i have just read the best article all year, well done, Tony. I knew alot of the problems in spain but i had no idea that it was this bad. I think the problem is that Barcelona and Real madrid are bigger than uefa and fifa so they do not need to follow FFP rules.

  • Matt

    Maybe Arsenal should hold of on signing players until tis time next year.Maybe that is Wenger’s master plan and us dummies are to stupid to realise it.

  • jkn198

    i wonder what they are smoking there in madrid

  • jkn198

    Excellent article. Keep them coming

  • ian

    Spurs fan here. We’re still owed a big chunk on Modric, £12m I think, and Levy and Joe Lewis are nobody’s mugs. The holdup on Bale is that Levy seems to be extracting as many of Real’s players as possible in exchange – I suspect precisely for the reasons you outline.

  • Pikey

    Thanks for the insight Tony, much appreciated.
    So what happens if RM agree to buy Bale and spread the moey over 5 years then simply can’t afford to make the payments?
    Does Bale go back to Spurs or do they simply not get their money? Any precedent with this sort of things…must be surely

  • I think you have over egged this post.

    Real have lower bank debt AND gross liabilities than Arsenal.

    They also have turnover in excess 500m

    Their financial position in fine – and of course the value of the likes of Ronaldo is the huge commercial tie ups – not “shirt sales’.

    I agree that might have difficulty if the TV companies stopped being able to pay them.

    But is there really any sign of that?

    As for Barca – similarly they have low debt and huge turnover.

    Do you have any evidence of financial difficult?

  • Bob Threader

    as a spurs supporter I have to say it’s rare you find posts on your site from the “other side” that are as good as this one.
    I couldnt agree with you more. …it is very worrying for any club currently dealing with Spain.
    Bale or otherwise……any deal has to include the return of the player if any repayments are not met by a given date.
    Madrid and Barca’s comupance is just around the corner. …and 100% it’s going to change the face of European footy !!

  • Stu

    Wenger reminds me of J Saville

  • AL

    Interesting read, Tony. I recall AW saying there was going to be a financial meltdown in football soon. This is scary for football in general, but I’m not concerned for Arsenal as I know we are in good hands.

  • AL

    The comment at 11:59am, does it belong here? Sick.

  • americangooner

    I don’t know why you have to bring Wenger and signings into a non-Arsenal related post. Either you don’t understand the subject matter or you fail to discuss the topic owing to your lack of research/expertise on the topic.
    On another note, good article.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    All AAAs rejoice ! Your pain is at its end !
    There’s a cure all for your condition .Praise the Lord !
    Just tell your doctor that the AKBs sent you !

  • marcus

    Just as Spanish banks are preparing for a bail-in a la Cyprus, Spanish clubs are trying out a bale-in.

  • Terence McGovern

    I hadn’t realised that Falcao’s rights had already been sold. La Liga really is a financial basket case.

  • gouresh

    interesting article Tony. I hope that you don’t mind if i use this to throw it in the face of couple of my friends who are unreal and bara fans. they just dont seem to see beyond the empty cups they have won.
    the only thing is that we don’t know the politics and what the politians behind all these clubs will do and how they would react to the meltdown of their funded [our money through the EU]clubs. they have to keep the vote bank happy no matter what the cost. this will be interesting.

  • marcus

    When Europe melts down like a Salvador Dali painting, these clubs will go with it.

    I suppose the triumph of Spanish Football is to turn Economic profligacy, bankruptcy and total collapse into a spectacle in itself. An enjoyable one to boot.

    Bravo! they cheered as their seats were taken away by the bailiffs from under them.

  • rocker58

    Put the daggers away and smell the coffee you Spurs fans, he from the other side has posted a well written article, I believe in answer to Pikey’s question, Man Utd sold Karol Poborski the Czech internetional to Benfica a few years ago and after repeated attempts to get Benfica to meet their repayments and then getting bored with the lack of any response from UEFA, Man Utd went to the civil courts in Portugal to get their money, and yes you guessed it, Man Utd were then censured by UEFA. So Mr Lewis and Mr Levy, who we know to be on the Bale (oops ball) will be making sure that any loopholes that Real Madrid may be thinking of are covered in respect of any transfer agreement.

  • Mick

    @James Clayton
    ‘Typical jealous Arsenal’
    Sorry don’t understand, jealous in what way or of what?
    ‘Whether we sell Bale or not we are stronger than last season by miles already.’
    Agreed, but not by miles.
    ‘You are just weaker so far!’
    Why and/or how?
    Please reply sensibly.

  • rocker58

    Mick, we have bought ourselves a proper striker to replace the Pepperami Worrier, rumours is that Spurs were warned off having all green as an away kit in case Luis Suarez fancied a bite ha ha!

  • ARSENAL 13

    Sorry TONY, I’ll have to go off-topic here.

    Therz a curtain raiser (of EPL ie) show going on in INDIA (Star sports). The part I just watched was dedicated to top clubs in England. Any guess………well, ManUtd, Liverpool, Spurs and Villa. (Seriously..No ARSENAL, no Everton) And then came an episode the nextday which was about moneyd clubs. Yes there was ManCity, Chelsea and then came ARSENAL…..And they also claim players like Cazorla, Arteta, Wilshere and Theo are unhappy with the manager…Seriously???….Looks like someone wanted to have a laugh.

  • Marvin

    Another day passes and even more clueless dummies banging on about other clubs but are not concerned about the dire state of transfers from the club. Bernard has signed for shaktar and wengers out in pound land

  • Why can’t some commenters just state part of the article that they disagree with and why they instead of just mindlessly insulting the author?

    Maximum respect to the fair spurs posters here. I know for a fact that there are loads of you but the rabid and noisy ones give you a bad name just like ours do too.


    Shouldn’t posts like Stu’s from 11.59am be banned from this site? Disagreements and banters are one thing; slanderous viciousness are another.

  • sukebe

    Wow, the similarities between AAA and spuds fans is… Wow..

  • the similarities between AAA and spuds fans is

  • uk

    they should… but not before commenters who insult other commenters parents are banned.

  • Andrei

    The irony is if Bale deal falls through Spurs are in deep red territory and have unhappy player on their hands. I suspect Spurs have already spent projected profits and want this deal as badly as RM.

  • Matt Clarke

    Another interesting read Tony, thank you.
    It seems that the philosophy is to make the debts so large that it would be ruinous to call them in.

    (On another note, while I sympathise with Stu for his evident suffering [see 11:59 post] surely he get cry for help somewhere more appropriate?)

  • nicky

    A bit off topic, but when I read sobering posts like yours about all the jiggery pokery going on in football in Italy, Spain and France, it makes our FA look positively naïve and benign.
    To me, it’s yet another reason why, without undue delay, the dear old UK should abandon Brussels asap (excluding of course, Walter B.,his country’s chocolates and their sprouts).

  • If you are excusing Belgium Nicky, please excuse the beer too. Just near Walter’s house there is a Belgian style pub (do not think UK pub, this is chic and elegant) where they serve you the best beer ever at your table. It is brewed in the monastery across the road, and I left at the end of the evening which much regret.

  • uk,

    Still harping on that aren’t ya? The fellow called my parenting into question without any provocation from me. He brought my relationship with my children into a debate that has nothing to with them. Well, I am not a christian, so I paid him back in kind. Besides, those properly brought up don’t resort to such things. I hope you know the difference.

  • nicky

    I have a dream….
    A Belgian Beer or two (those monks knew how to brew)
    Roast Turkey with Brussels sprouts etc
    Belgian chocs to thank the little lady.
    All served up by Walter in a fetching pinny.
    It all makes staying IN the EU well worthwhile.

  • bob

    Mr. Attwood,
    Very informative piece and much appreciated.
    In your view, did Barca repay us for the Cesc sale?
    For Song? If not, the debt is surely the key factor.
    Is there a way to know this, or are these “line items”
    club secrets?

  • OMGArsenal

    Hey Gooners and fair-minded Spurs fans (Yids?)….if our moany,whiney,pessimistic, negative pseudo-supporters are termed AAA devotees (the Anti-Arsenal Arsenal), would your easily insulted, antagonistic,thin-skinned Spurs moaners be justifiably called Anti-Spurs Spuds (ASS)?

    I really doubt that Spain will enforce any restrictions on their flagship Football Clubs (Barcalooney & Real Mad)unless they are forced to by the EU. When I was in Germany, there was strong sentiment against supporting these pariahs like Spain,Portugal,Greece, etc. Basically the EU,EUFA and FIFA tend to be politically gutless when it comes to laying down the law….otherwise these issues would have been dealt with years ago.
    Bale is not likely to go to Real Mad, but if he does, I know Tottenham will ensure that the agreement is water-tight or as close to that as possible. They aren’t fools and they have been down this route before.
    One thing I never quite get is why some fans of AFC and TFC are so antagonistic to each other….both Clubs represent pretty much the same thinking, style, football philosophy and even TW history. I understand that neither club wants to do the other any favours but our fans need to learn respect for each other and for their THFC counterparts.

  • Notoverthehill


    From the Memoria Club 2011/2012, Page 178:

    “…. Francesc Fábregas ….. , por un importe de €39,660,000.

    Page 182 in debts owed to Football Clubs, the Arsenal are not mentioned, UNLESS “Otras clubes €128,000” ???

    I have not yet downloaded the 2012/2013 Memoria!

    Does it help?

  • Uk

    He called your writing skills into question. Asked you to spend the time (the time wasted writing ‘crap posts’) with your kids (you brought them into the debate/post). Even if you didn’t understand his comment this way, you neednt have insulted his parents, he was fair game, not his parents
    Now I’m not interested in how people conduct themselves especially on internet forums. I’m specifically calling you out on these issues because we hear a lot of sermonizings from you about the ‘abusive aaa’, unfortunately, from the surveys I’ve done on the site, the aaa seem not to usually be the major culprit in this matter. I’d rather have an abusive house, than a hypocritical one

  • uk,

    Here is the original post:

    August 4, 2013 at 10:46 am

    Maybe you should spend more time looking after your your young children instead of writing on here and do us all a favour.”

    Here is another commenter’s response:

    August 4, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    @Matt, that comment was extremely callous. Shows how shallow you are. I started to write pieces when I was bound to the house due to the boy being in bed early, how do you know it’s not the same for Bootoomee.”

    Here is my comment that you are still crying about:

    August 4, 2013 at 9:46 pm

    Matt (@10.46am),

    I look after my children just fine. How do you think they end up not biting before they clock 2?

    I’m not sure that your parents took care of you though with the utter lack of class in your comment.”

    If you don’t want me to question your parents role in your life, don’t question my role in that of my children. Talking about my under 2 kids not biting anymore in context of a discussion about a grown man and serial biter does not warrant ANYONE telling me to go spend time with my children. What the hell has that got to do with the topic?

    Besides, the person I was talking has gotten over it. Why are you crying more than the bereaved?

    You need to find another crusade as you are clearly not qualified to question my moralty. You are the king of hypocrites if you see nothing wrong in the first attack but only harp on about the retribution.

  • bob

    Well, I guess the source shows there’s no debt. Considering the fiscal irresponsibility of Barca and RealMad and their enablers, can you rely on that source, Memoria Club to be truthful and accurate? Don’t know what MC is, so are they an independent source or Barca’s own reporting facility. Please clarify, and thanks for doing the research.

  • sukebe


    Could you please share us all the result of your survey?
    I’m sure it’ll be one fun educative discussion to have here.

  • sukebe,

    Please don’t mind uk. He is a whiny hypocrite.

    Now, that I have provided the conversation in full context, he will ignore it and go to another thread to whine. No one who saw Matt’s original comment thought I was out of order in my reply, except the uk. A look at the the exchanges will also show that he (uk) lies too. Or maybe his comprehension is not so great.

    Matt, the person in question never complained; probably because he knew that he was out of bounds with the original comment.

  • Andrei posted:
    August 8, 2013 at 5:40 pm

    The irony is if Bale deal falls through Spurs are in deep red territory and have unhappy player on their hands. I suspect Spurs have already spent projected profits and want this deal as badly as RM.

    Not so. AVB was handed a £50m war chest, at the start of Summer, to be supplemented by the sales of no-longer-required players. To date, the money has been allocated as follows: Paulinho (£17m); Chadli (£7); and Soldado (£25.8m). That’s a total of £49.8m. This leaves a surplus of £0.2m, which has been supplemented by the outbound transfers of Steve Caulker (£8.8m) and Clint Dempsey (£6m), leaving AVB with at least £15m in the kitty. If the rumours are true, the purse will be around £8.6m after the weekend, as Etienne Capoue is expected to sign after a medical. If you recall, the Chairman’s position at the beginning of the window was that Bale is not for sale. The money for strengthening the side, far from being dependent upon the sale of Bale, was provided in the hope of building a side AROUND him. AVB and Baldini have been quietly doing so, for the past six weeks. IF Bale goes, THEN, whatever can be spent from the proceeds of his sale, WILL be. Additionally, more players are expected to be sold, realising even more funds…

  • I meant to say “…the purse will be around £8.6m LIGHTER after the weekend…”

    By the way, I forgot to compliment Tony for his article. Let me correct that oversight, now. Unlike some fans, I don’t read it as an attack on Spurs, by an Arsenal fan. Rather, a very good precis of the malaise and coming apocalypse in Spanish football…

  • uk

    thanks for.posting the thread. i think its obvious he says for you to spare us crap posts, spend the time instead with your kids. and like i said, whether you take that as saying you dont spend enkugh time already is not enough justification for insulting his parents. now, like i also said, i’m calling you out on it only because you have always harped on about AAAs abusing, that is very hypocritical, well i’ve had enough of the hypocrite ‘untold policeman’. so when i hear you cry “…surely x,y,z ought to be banned…bla bla bla”, im gonna be highlighting the hypocrisy.

  • uk,

    Isn’t it a bit odd that you are the only one latching onto this matter? Even Matt had moved on.

    You really think that because he insulted me and I returned the favour, I have no right complain against someone making disgusting and slanderous statement?

    I don’t get how your mind works, although from the quality of your poorly formatted comments I should have known.

    You are not in any position to be highlighting hypocrisy because you wouldn’t know what hypocrisy is if it were a humanoid repeatedly smacking you in the mouth.

  • uk

    well 1st of all, i dont think im the only one bothered about it, i believe other persons are but as its no concern of theirs, would rather not risk confrontation(especially as its likely to get them abused or… lets ban him) for eg, i quote elkieno(an akb). aug 6,10:15am on the post “i know what i want,therefore i know what the club needs”. @bootoomee, “… you are not an authority on what is interesting to read and what is not. its just your opinion, and it seems.lately only you are correct or speak any sense, according to you…” it is worth noting that he gives an assesment he had made of you, but didnt express only after he thought you had personally gone after him.
    but you know me, i have the time and interest, so i will gladly call you out. i know you cant make your points without insults, but thats no problem here, i just want you to know, as long as you enjoy being abusive on here, there’ll be someone to point out your hypocrisy when you go ” ban him, excommunicate him..he’s crossed d abuse line”

  • uk

    just so its clear, i dont mind you abusing commenters, you do that all the time. when you start abusing their parents? thats crossing a line. when you then call for another commenter’s ban because of abuse, well, thats taking hypocrisy too far

  • Brickfields Gunners

    @ Bootoomee – Think you ‘d like this .

    The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
    Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
    Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
    Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it.

    The rubaiyat of omar khayyam – quatrain 60

  • Brickfields Gunners,

    I absolutely love it and I shall be following it in ending the tedious exchange with Untold’s resident dim-witted wind-up artist.