Florentino Pérez’s plan to borrow up to €575 million for the remodelling of the Santiago Bernabéu has been approved by an overwhelming majority of delegates representing the club’s 93,000 members at an Extraordinary Assembly on Sunday.
In accordance with the club’s statutes, Pérez had to seek approval from club members before taking on such a large debt. Out of the 1,097 delegates who voted at the assembly, 1,017 voted to approve the plan, 57 voted against, while 23 abstained.
This gives Pérez the green light to borrow up to €575 million, which will be paid back over a 25 to 30-year period. The stadium remodelling -- which entails putting a metallic “skin” and retractable a roof on the existing structure, but will not add extra seating capacity – is estimated to cost €525 million. The extra €50 million for which Pérez has sought approval to borrow would be for unforeseen expenses.
The club has been forced to seek loans to pay for the works after a €400 million stadium naming rights deal with the emirates-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) fell through last November. The IPIC deal would have covered the majority of the project costs.
A passion project
“We have approved a project that has the members and revenues in mind,” Pérez told the assembly.
“They say that Bayern's stadium cost 300 million, but the English stadiums, Wembley, Tottenham and Chelsea all cost more than a billion ... Some have said that we do not need a new stadium, for those people we would still be playing in [Estadio] O'Donnell (Madrid’s home stadium from 1912 to 1923),” he added, addressing critics of the project.
The stadium remodelling has been a passion project of Pérez 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. Now, after years of setbacks and delays, Perez’s passion project will finally go ahead.