Spain’s anti-corruption prosecution agency, the Fiscalía Anticorrupción, is reportedly investigating the family of Atlético General Director Miguel Angel Gil Marín as part of an alleged 2003-04 financial scandal which took place at the club. President Enrique Cerezo may also be implicated.
According to Barcelona-based paper Sport, the agency is reviewing Atlético’s accounting records from the 2003-04 season, among other suspicious activity.
The paper suggests that the notorious pair ‘cooked the books’ in their favour during that season, and claims that Gil and Cerezo could be prosecuted and forced out of Atleti if found guilty of any wrongdoing.
The directors are said to have already enlisted the services of a high profile defence attorney.
This isn’t the first time that the anti-corruption authorities have gone after Atlético’s majority shareholders. Back in 2005, Gil and his father, former Atlético owner Jesus Gil y Gil, were placed under scrutiny by the then anti-corruption lead prosecutor after being accused of stealing €16m of club funds.
The task force is looking into possible fraudulent activity, specifically, the movement of capital abroad allegedly to conceal assets and perpetrated through the use of Gil family corporations, described by the Spanish Supreme Court in 2004 as “fictitious instruments of Jesus Gil.”
Claims the club has run up massive debt of €782m
News of this alleged misconduct came out on the same day that the organisation Señales de Humo released a 4,000 page report prepared by the Law Firm of Cremades & Calvo Sotelo, in which the attorneys claim that the club is €782m in debt and suffers losses of roughly €52m per year.
The firm estimates that the value of Atlético shares is at “zero euros” and claims that Gil Marín is not entitled to his annual salary of €1.35m, as club statutes stipulate that administrators cannot be paid in the event that Atleti experiences losses, as purportedly is the case.
Protest group lay out their plans
The anti-Gil and Cerezo group Atléticos por el Cambio visited the offices of Madrid-based paper AS just a day after the directors did.
Group members Vicente Calderón (son of former club president Vicente Calderón), Gonzalo Calderón, Gabriel Camuñas, Sergio Medina and Javier Albert presented some of their plans for Atlético’s future.
“We don’t want to take possession of the club,” Vicente Calderón told AS reporters. “The club should belong to the shareholders, its legitimate owners.”
“The club has a debt of €445m and growing,” claimed businessman Camuñas, whose numbers vary from the report released by Señales de Humo. “At this rate, as the Financial Vice President Abásolo said a few days ago, in a couple of years Atlético will end up in bankruptcy.”
Camuñas, who has shown interest in making a takeover bid for Atleti in the past, explained what his organisation wants from Gil and Cerezo.
“We just want to know the price it would take for them to leave, and negotiate it,” he said. “The rescue price. We don’t want the club for free.
“Atlético is stronger in the hands of 50,000 people.”
The group criticised the Rojiblanco directors’ stance with regard to television contracts. Atlético has allied itself with Barcelona and Real Madrid in order to keep second-tier teams like Sevilla and Villarreal, who earn significantly less than us through broadcastng rights, at bay.
“That’s a complete surrender to compete,” they said. “We can’t focus on widening the gap between us and those at the bottom. We have to close in on those at the top.”
Camuñas then spoke about the importance of Atlético’s supporters, who he describes as “the value of the club.”
“There are intangible assets of immeasurable value,” he said. “Those are the crest and the fans.
“Atlético has income of €110m. Of those, 26 are from membership fees, 52 are from television [contracts], 10 are from marketing, 15 from advertising and 12 from playing in Europa [League].
“That is to say, when we don’t play in European competitions the fans make up more than 90 per cent of the income.”
Given Atleti’s poor performance in all competitions this season, the huge debt amassed by the club and the legal woes the directors are facing, it seems viable that Gil and Cerezo could want out soon. The fans have been railing against the pair for years now, and these opposition groups are really starting to gain traction.
Amidst this firestorm of opposition and trouble with the law, could these be the last days of Gil and Cerezo at the club?