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Spanish Professional Football Clubs: How Salient Is the Exact Nature of the Aid? · Cases T-865/16 FC Barcelona v Commission, C-362/19 P Commission v FC Barcelona, T-791/16 Real Madrid CF v Commission, T-766/16 Hércules CF v Commission, T-732/16 Valencia journal article

Annotation on the Judgments of the General Court and the Court of Justice of the European Union in Case T-865/16 FC Barcelona v Commission (GC, 26 February 2019), C-362/19 P Commission v FC Barcelona (CJEU, 4 March 2021), T-791/16 Real Madrid CF v Commission (GC, 22 May 2019), T-766/16 Hércules CF v Commission (GC, 20 March 2019), T-732/16 Valencia CF v Commission (GC, 12 March 2020), T-901/16 Elche CF v Commission (GC, 12 March 2020)

Jacob Kornbeck

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 20 (2021), Issue 1, Page 120 - 138

Five judgments handed down by the General Court (GC), in 2019-20, and by the Court of Justice, in 2021, have clarified aspects of three Commission State aid decisions regarding Spanish professional football clubs, through preferential tax rates applicable to non-profit organisations (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Athletic Bilbao, Atletico Osasuna) and land transactions between municipal and regional authorities and private entities (Real Madrid) and financial guarantees offered by public authorities to private entities (Hércules CF, Valencia CF, Elche CF). Not only questions of substance were clarified but also procedural ones. Two GC rulings were appealed to the Court. The specificity of sport (Article 165 TFEU) does not appear to have been instrumental in shaping any of the judgments annotated.


State Aid and Access to Sport – Lessons for VAT Law? journal article

Jacob Kornbeck

European State Aid Law Quarterly, Volume 18 (2019), Issue 2, Page 138 - 156

Whereas discussions of the applicability of EU law to the sport sector have tended to focus on the ‘specificity’ of the private rules (lex sportiva) of sports governing bodies (SGBs), embracing ‘specificity’ carries the risk of exempting specific legal entities rather than specific activities worthy of exemption because linked to specific public policy objectives. However, as this exercise has yielded dissimilar results in different areas of EU law, there is scope for one area to learn from the decisional practice and case law of another area. It is submitted that an emerging ‘access to sport’ doctrine can be identified in the field of EU State aid law, already inherent in the relevant legal requirements, including Commission Reg. 651/2014 and Notice C/2016/2946, as confirmed by the decisional practice of the Commission as well as recent case law including Alpenverein [2016] and Hamr Sport [2016]. The field of EU VAT law could benefit from some of the insights generated within State aid law for, while the legal framework is different, as defined in Article 113 TFEU, the recent case law has engendered a questionable doctrine, notably in English Bridge Union [2017], making the physicality of the activity the yardstick while, crucially, dependent on formal recognition by SGBs. The paper will argue in favour of adopting a health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA) doctrine, as already enshrined in relevant EU sport soft law and, indirectly, within the area of EU State aid law. Keywords: VAT; Sport; Specificity; Access to sport; Public policy; Health-enhancing physical activity (HEPA).

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