A Dubai business group bought Spanish football club Getafe on Thursday for at least €70 million, becoming the latest Middle East investor to take over a European team.
The Royal Emirates Group of Companies wouldn’t say exactly how much it paid for the topflight Spanish club. But Kaiser Rafiq, a partner and managing director of the business conglomerate, said the price ranged from €70-90 million.
“70 to 75 percent has been paid up front” in cash and that none of the funds are coming from the Dubai government. Of the remainder, he said, there are “some legalities that have to be gone through” but that Getafe was happy with the structure of the deal. “This is strictly a private business deal.”
The Dubai group said the club’s name will remain unchanged but “Team Dubai” will be added to the team shirts, stadium and other merchandise.
“We are really glad today to be witnessing this great moment,” Sheik Butti said. “We are really happy and glad to sign this contract with Spain’s first division Getafe. We are also happy to include the name Team Dubai. I hope this will improve relations between the UAE and Spain.”
Getafe president Angel Torres, who flew to Dubai for the news conference along with team captain Manuel del Moral, dismissed fears that fans would be put off by the addition of Team Dubai on the logo.
“The sponsors or whomever is working behind the scenes is not important,” he said. “What is important is becoming competitive.”
It will be really interesting to see what plans the Dubai owners have for Getafe. Are they just looking for a place to put their logo, or are they going to do a Manchester City and heavily invest in the club with the aim of bringing Champions League football to Getafe?
There is a massive gap in La Liga between Barcelona, Real Madrid and the rest of the league. If the Dubai group can make Getafe more competitive and challenge the big two, then football in Spain will be better off with this acquisition.