The Madrid District Court announced a ruling on Thursday nullifying an Atlético increase in capital that took place in 2003 because of “legal fraud.” The club has stated that the decision will be appealed to the Spanish Supreme Court.
The judgment resulted from an appeal of an April 2009 ruling filed by minority shareholders of the club, supported by members of Señales de Humo.
As Yahoo! Eurosport reporter Ruben Uría explained earlier this month, in a meeting held on 27 June 2003, Atleti’s board of directors agreed to increase the capital of the club by €22.2m by issuing 446,632 new shares of stock at a nominal value of €49.88 each. However, those new shares limited certain rights to the shareholder, and those limitations were deemed illegal.
Another basis for the court’s ruling is that in order to establish the required legal majority (or quorum) to hold a board of directors meeting, shares that had not been paid for by club president Enrique Cerezo and general director Miguel Ángel Gil Marín were illegally counted in their favour.
The Spanish High Court had authorised the board meeting with the express condition that the directing pair pay €11.7m for the newly issued shares ahead of that meeting. Gil and Cerezo failed to do so, yet proceeded with the meeting anyway.
The annulment of the 2003 capital expansion has apparently increased the ownership percentage of the minority shareholders, though Gil and Cerezo remain the majority shareholders.
Because Atlético will appeal to the Supreme Court, Thursday’s ruling will not come into effect for at least another three years, reports El Mundo Deportivo.
Nonetheless, Señales de Humo appeared satisfied with the judgment.
“This sentence implies a shift in the ownership structure of the club, as well as the end of the proposition so often put forward by the Gil family and Enrique Cerezo who claim that Atlético Madrid is their property, a claim that several judicial rulings have sharply denied,” read a statement at the association’s website.
Atlético brushed the ruling aside in an ‘official communique’ found at the club’s site.
“The great majority of the current ownership structure is not affected in any way by this sentence,” read the club’s statement. “The club will continue to be managed absolutely as normal.”