A report in The Independent claims the Spanish giants could soon be ordered to give up their positions as member-owned clubs, forcing them to convert to Sociedades Anonimas Deportivas (SAD) - a special type of public limited company in Spain.
In 1990 the Spanish Government introduced legislation that required all clubs to become limited companies apart from Madrid, Barca, Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna, who were allowed to retain their status as non-commercial organisations for historical reasons. The exemption allowed the four clubs considerable advantages when set against corporation and property tax - something that could be about to change.
The newspaper maintains the European Commission’s competition office has conducted a four-year investigation into allegations of illegal state aid for both Madrid and Barca, linked to their standing as member-owned clubs, but has delayed making a decision on the issue despite being given a one-year deadline.
It is the second such EC investigation into Madrid, who also came under the microscope for a land deal involving the Madrid town hall dating back some 17 years, which some believe constituted illegal state assistance.
Now, however, the European Ombudsman has intervened - with the independent arbitrator having the power over decisions taken by EC institutions - and has criticised the competition office for its “failure to comply” with its own deadlines regarding the big two.
A spokesman for the EC competition office told The Independent it was “in contact with the Ombudsman” over the matter and expected “to take a position as regards state aid to professional sport in the near future”.