The European Union has approved sanctions against seven Spanish clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, guilty of accepting state aid.
It emerged over the weekend that Los Blancos owed Madrid City Council €18.4m from a series of land deals, and they have since been joined by Barca, who must pay back up to €5m from winning tax privileges.
A statement issued in Brussels by the EU’s Competition Commission read: “Spain must recover amounts of illegal state aid from seven beneficiaries, namely: Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Athletic Bilbao, Osasuna, Elche and Hercules.
“Using taxpayer money to fund professional football clubs can distort competition. Professional football is a commercial activity, in which a lot of money is at stake.
“Public funds must comply with the rules of fair competition and, in this case, the investigated subsidies did not meet them.
Valencia, Hercules and Elche owe €20.4m, €6.1m and €3.7m respectively for guarantees on loans granted by the Valencian Institute of Finance.
Athletic Bilbao and Osasuna, like Madrid and Barca, must also reimburse up to €5m each for tax privileges.