MADRID: Real Madrid and Barcelona have given notice that they will appeal against a European Commission ruling that they benefited from millions of euro in ‘unfair state aid’.

The commission ruled yesterday that the respective European and Spanish champions and five other Spanish clubs should return funds to the state even though national and local government authorities had negotiated the various deals in line with laws in place at the time.

Real were ordered to pay back €18.4m because it was ruled the Madrid city authority overcompensated the club following the collapse of a land transfer deal.

However, the club has denied any wrongdoing and took issue with the methods used to reach the decision.

A statement said: “It is a surprise that the European Commission have used a valuation made by an architect’s office in Barcelona to dictate their decision, when said firm has little experience in making similar estimates in general and almost none in the city of Madrid.

Expert valuation

“Real Madrid, despite the only objective and legally obliging valuation being the cadastral value, presented in the report a valuation made by one of the most important companies in the world, Aguirre Newman, whose report concluded that Real Madrid had even been under-compensated by more than €7.5m.

“Due to these reasons, once Real Madrid knows the decisions made, we will appeal in the Court of Justice of the European Union with confidence that those decisions will be revoked.”

Barcelona were ordered to pay back up to €5m bevause football clubs had benefited from a lower corporation tax rate for more than two decades. The club has hit out at the ruling and insists it acted within the law and could not be punished retrospectively.

A club statement read: “Since January of 2016, FC Barcelona is taxed according to the reformed corporate tax code and no longer has any difference in taxation with respect to other Spanish clubs. The club will defend the interests of its members against abusive interpretations of the law.”

Fellow top-tier Liga clubs Valencia and Athletic Bilbao were also ordered to repay funds to the state, along with lower-league outfits Hercules, Elche and Osasuna. Valencia, which was told to pay back €20.4m after having received cheap loan guarantees by a state-owned credit institution, claims it is yet to be officially notified of the ruling.