Real Madrid fans concerned at their heavily-in-debt club spending 400 million euros on upgrading the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu have called on president Florentino Perez to allow socios to vote on the project.
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On Friday, Perez confirmed that a new design inspired by Rome's Coliseum had been chosen for the stadium -- including a retractable roof and “intelligent skin” which will react to the emotions of the fans inside -- with the Blancos chief saying the club would have “the best stadium in the world” when it is completed in 2017.
Perez did not go into detail on how the club would raise the 400 million euros required to finance the construction, but reports have suggested he is considering selling naming rights for the upgraded ground, with Microsoft and Coca-Cola among those thought to be interested.
Lobby group the Association for the Values of Madridismo (AVM) released a statement on Saturday, published in AS, raising doubts over the need for such a lavish project, particularly considering the club's financial problems off the pitch.
"We consider that the socios, owners of the club, are those who should decide in a democratic and direct way," the statement read. "Particularly, given the importance of the project, the financial vehicle to be used. The AVM has doubts, as Madrid are suffering from debts as high as 541 million euros, about whether the cost of the works is excessive and the predicted duration is very uncomfortable. We also reject the possibility that the name of the stadium might be changed."
The statement then pointed to other potential issues around the project, including the possibility that members might lose control completely of their institution should the debts spiral out of control, and the ongoing European Commission investigation into a land swap with the city authorities, which has given the club the bigger “footprint” needed to add extra commercial facilities, including a luxury hotel.
"The higher the debt goes, the greater the risk the club might have to be converted into a limited company," the statement continued. "The AVM remembers that the club is being investigated by the European Commission due to this project, as well as the supposed state aid covered by the suspicious multiplication by 46 of the value of the site."
Both Madrid and Barcelona are in theory owned by their fans, who have the right to vote on serious matters pertaining to the clubs' futures.
Barca's new president Josep Maria Bartomeu has given his backing to the 600 million euro plan to upgrade the Camp Nou, introduced in January by his predecessor Sandro Rosell. Blaugrana socios are to vote on the project in early April.