MP asks: Did EU taxpayers underwrite Bale’s transfer?

Real Madrid borrowed heavily from Spanish bank bailed out by EU

A fan looks at Gareth Bale shirts on sale in the official store at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Photograph: Getty

A fan looks at Gareth Bale shirts on sale in the official store at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Photograph: Getty

Thu, Sep 5, 2013, 08:12


Who exactly is funding Real Madrid’s record-breaking €100 million purchase of 24-year-old Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur? Could it by any chance be the European taxpayer?

As the transfer window closed on Monday night, Deloitte’s Sports Business Group calculated that UK premiership clubs spent a record-breaking €630 million this year compared to the previous record of €500 million in 2008, with Bale by far the most expensive signing.

However, as the deal was done, Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders tabled what he clearly hopes will be an embarrassing parliamentary question for Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who is also chairman of the Eurogroup of finance ministers.

As the Netherlands struggles to find public spending cuts worth €6 billion this year, what Mr Wilders wants is an assurance that it’s not the squeezed Dutch taxpayer who’s subsidising Bale’s move.

Wilders, who has called for the first in a series of mass protests against austerity for later this month, argues that Real Madrid’s €100 million largesse is only possible because the club has borrowed heavily from its Spanish bank, Bankia.

The problem, he maintains, is that Bankia is still in existence thanks only to a €19 billion EU bailout.

Wilders has begun a debate, and the question many Dutch are now asking has its own reverse logic: could Gareth Bale ultimately be used to guarantee the solvency of Bankia?