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Real Madrid-IPIC deal 'can help make Bernabeu world's greatest stadium'

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says the club's new strategic alliance with Abu Dhabi-based investors IPIC will facilitate the planned developed of the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu "into the greatest stadium in the world."

Bloomberg reports that IPIC (International Petroleum Investment Company) is to help pay the 400 million-euro costs of the rebuild, and could in return get part naming-rights to the new-look stadium.

That redevelopment project remains blocked amid a local legal planning challenge, and a European Commission investigation into a land-swap deal with the local council.

Speaking at an event attended by coach Carlo Ancelotti, club captain Iker Casillas and galacticos Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale on Tuesday, the Blancos chief said he was delighted with the new partnership, but did not spell out exactly what was involved.

"We want to continue building the greatest legend in the history of football," Perez said at the event. "IPIC is becoming a fundamental ally which shares our values and will help us to develop and further strengthen the Real Madrid brand on all continents.

"This strategic alliance will help us to be the best, and bring about a series of decisive projects for the future of the club. This is the beginning of a long relationship and the start of a powerful alliance that could be key to us meeting one of our greatest challenges: turning the Santiago Bernabeu into the greatest stadium in the world."

Real closed in on Liga leaders Barcelona last weekend with a 3-1 clasico victory at the Bernabeu.

IPIC, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government and controls Spain's biggest oil company Cepsa, released a statement saying the arrangement would involve the spreading of Real Madrid's ethos through the world via new cultural and educational projects. The group's managing director Khadem Abdullah al-Qubaisi also said the agreement would lead to a new Bernabeu, but without revealing any of the financial details involved.

"We are proud to join forces with Real Madrid, the world's top football club and sporting brand," Al-Qubaisi said. "This long term agreement is designed to provide the commercial means, not just to build the world's greatest sports facility, but also to spread Real Madrid's heritage and football ethos around the globe.

"The agreement is designed to inspire and empower young people around the world by bringing the 'Real Madrid Museum, Empowered by IPIC' to their cities, and to develop exciting new 'Real Madrid School of Football, Empowered by IPIC' training and instructional material for coaches and children to improve their footballing skills."

Last January, Perez announced the winners of an architectural competition to design a futuristic new ground which would include new hotel and commercial spaces, saying the work would be completed by 2017.

More recently the construction magnate said the new stadium would have a "sponsor," while the word "Bernabeu" would be respected. Since 1955 the stadium has carried the name of the still revered former Madrid coach, player and president.

The redeveloped Bernabeu is said to be important to enable member-owned Madrid to continue to compete with rivals bankrolled by rich individuals. At its recent AGM, Perez announced the club had cut its "net financial debt" to a manageable 71.5 million euros, although local newspaper AS claims its actual debts are 602 million euros.

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