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Mega-debt: Perez seeks €575m loans for Bernabeu revamp

Florentino Pérez busca un nuevo Bernabéu.

JUAN MEDINA

REUTERS

Perez wants to build "the greatest stadium of the 21st century" and is asking Real Madrid's members to approve his debt plan to complete his passion project.

Florentino Perez has caused some alarm amongst Real Madrid’s 92,000 socios (members) with his latest proposal. The club president, who was elected by those same members, is seeking the approval of delegates at an Assembly meeting on September 23 to borrow hundreds of billions of euros that the club would pay back over a period of up to 35 years.

All of this money would be used to put a metallic “skin” around the Bernabeu. The stadium remodelling, which will not add any seating capacity, could reach an estimated cost of €574 million, and not the €400 million that Perez had been claiming.

At the Assembly meeting on September 23, Perez needs to get approval from at least two-thirds of the 2,200 delegates to go ahead with his plan to put the club in massive debt.

A formal petition has already been published on Real Madrid’s official website ahead of the assembly in two weeks’ time, in which it asks the delegates to approve the borrowing of “up to maximum total of FIVE HUNDRED SEVENTY-FIVE MILLION EUROS, or its equivalent in foreign currency, for a maximum term of THIRTY-FIVE YEARS” in order to finance “the remodelling of the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.”

In accordance with statutes of the club, the president is obligated to seek approval of the Assembly of delegates, which represent all 92,000 members, to take on debt of this size and nature.

Perez’ passion project

Artist's impression of the new Bernabeu

Perez is a civil engineer by trade and president of ACS, one of the biggest construction firms in Spain. The stadium remodelling has been his passion project for close to 15 years and something he has brought up at Assembly meetings since 2004, the year in which he promised to build the “the greatest stadium of the 21st century” by 2008.

At the 2010 Assembly he said the “remodelling must make [the stadium] an icon of sports architecture”; in 2012 he stated “the goal is to start in the summer of 2013”; and in 2014 promised “it will be a reality in 2017.”

But much to his frustration, the project to build what he sees as a stadium fitting of the most successful club in football history has yet to get off the ground, after several bureaucratic and other setbacks. The latest setback came last November when a €400 million stadium naming rights deal with the emirates-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) fell through. The IPIC deal would have covered the majority of the project costs.

But now the club must foot the bill itself, and if Perez can convince the Assembly that it is worth taking on €575 million-worth of debt to build “the greatest stadium of the 21st century”, the construction mogul’s passion project could finally get underway.

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