x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Getafe sale to Dubai is confirmed

Royal Emirates Group buys Spanish football team but club president denies 'Team Dubai' will be added to name on shirts and merchandise.

Club president Angel Torres contradicted previous claims by Royal Emirates Group that the club would add the name
Club president Angel Torres contradicted previous claims by Royal Emirates Group that the club would add the name "Team Dubai" to its crest on shirts, stadium and other club merchandise.

The president of the Spanish football club Getafe CF last night confirmed its sale to Dubai-based Royal Emirates Group - but denied there would be an addition to its name.

And in another bizarre twist, the Associated Press (AP) news agency said the Dubai group would not take over the running of the club until July 1, 2012, by which time the team could be out of La Liga as they sit just four points above the relegation zone.

Royal Emirates Group, chaired by Sheikh Butti bin Suhail Al Maktoum, held a press conference on Thursday at the Burj Al Arab hotel where it announced it had signed a purchase deal for between €70million (Dh374.7) and €90 million.

But confusion arose when the president, Angel Torres, reportedly said on his return to Madrid the following day that the deal was not final and the club had not yet been sold.

In an attempt to end growing speculation over the sale, Mr Torres held a press conference in Madrid last night where he confirmed the club had been forced to "go out to look for investors" after getting into debt.

"The decision to sell the club is because, logically, the more years that you are in the first division, the greater the risk of getting into debt. It is difficult to compete in this league," he said.

Although putting an end to speculation whether the club had in fact been sold, last night's press conference raised further questions about the details of the sale.

Mr Torres contradicted previous claims by Royal Emirates Group that the club would add the name "Team Dubai" to its crest on shirts, stadium and other club merchandise.

He said the name and crest would remain the same and that 140 people who worked for the club would stay in employment.

Mr Torres said he managed to negotiate an increase in the club's annual budget to €65m - €20m more than its current budget - with the new owners so it would be able to invest in new players. "First I have to inform the board of all the things that were done, then I will give a news conference," he said.

Kaiser Rafiq, the managing director of Royal Emirates Group, blamed the media for the confusion, saying Mr Torres's words had been "taken out of context" and that the press had "published the wrong story".

AP reported that Mr Torres had said the group planned to invest US$130m (Dh477.5m) to ensure the club performed well in the Spanish league and was able to play in the European Champions League.

Last season the team finished in a very credible sixth position but have lost 16 of their 33 games so far this term.

A spokesman for Royal Emirates Group was not available for comment last night.

newsdesk@thenational.ae

* With additional reporting by Agence France-Presse