How Atletico Madrid Built a World-Class Team On a Foundation of Spiraling Debt

“Considering the situation of our country is facing, it is unreasonable to start introducing dysfunctional steps into the championship that could affect its image, which has a commercial value.”

That rationale meant that laxity prevailed. The ex-president of Bayern Munich, Uli Hoeness, showed his frustration while referring to the EU bailout of Spain in 2012. He said, “This is unthinkable. We pay hundreds of millions to get them out of the sh*t, and then the clubs don’t pay their debts.”

Under Gil, not paying up their taxes was Atletico’s modus operandi. Although they have started paying out their debt now, in theory, they will have not paid what they owe until sometime early in the next decade. Instead of taking things seriously and living within their means, Atletico simply go on spending. UEFA temporarily withheld their prize money after winning the Europa League for breaching the Financial Fair Play regulations in 2012. Atletico were among the first teams to be hit by the Financial Fair Play although their punishment was eventually nullified. Hence, it is no surprise to see why they came under the radar.

Not long after selling Sergio Kun Aguero to Manchester City to stave off the tax man, a deal to sign Radamel Falcao was agreed with Porto, which was worth €40 million. It was simple that Atletico were unable to fund the deal themselves and so the Doyen Sports Group – a hedge fund – reportedly chipped in around 50% of the fees.

Falcao may have enjoyed a great time at Atletico but they never deserved to have him in the first place. They remained unable to afford him from within their means. But that did not stop them as Falcao was not the only one. According to one investigation in 2013, it was revealed that only six players from their first team were owned outright by the club. Despite the circumstances in which they remained, Atletico continued spending over €160 million net on transfer fees from 2002 to 2009. To get deals done for the top players in the world while holding so much in back payments smacks of astonishing hubris.

Even being assisted by Doyen in paying for Falcao, Atletico still failed to maintain their obligations to Porto. According to some reports, the Portuguese Club were on the verge of asking FIFA for a resolution when the Rojiblancos failed on their installments. Shortly after this complaint, Doyen’s name started appearing on the Atleti kit.

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