EU court annuls order for Spanish clubs to repay state aid

Valencia supporters outside the Mestalla Stadium. (AP pic)

BRUSSELS: A European court on Thursday overturned an order that two Spanish football clubs, Valencia and Elche, must repay millions of euros in public subsidies.

In July 2016, after concluding an investigation into alleged breaches of EU state aid rules, the European Commission had demanded the clubs repay Spain.

La Liga outfit Valencia was supposed to refund €20.4 million and second division Elche €3.7 million.

But the General Court of the European Union has now found that the commission, the EU’s executive arm, had made a “manifest error of assessment” in issuing the order.

The EU had argued that loan guarantees provided to the clubs by public bodies had allowed them to obtain finance at unfairly advantageous rates.

But the court ruled that Brussels’ calculations were off and cancelled the order.