Spanish Soccer Teams Short Of Financial Goooals

Housing market collapses have caused a lot of misery in many countries. That includes Spain, which had one of Europe's biggest property bubbles. Now, even soccer teams are sweating.

There's a row of four impressive new skyscrapers on Madrid's northern edge built on land bought from soccer powerhouse Real Madrid for half a billion dollars. Now the local joke is to call the towers Beckham, Zidane, Figo and Ronaldo after the star players Madrid signed with some of the money raised from the land sale.

Spain's decade-long real estate boom was a gold mine for Spanish soccer. Construction firms paid large sums to have their logos on team jerseys and real estate moguls lined up to buy teams.

Sports business professor Sandalio Gomez at the IESE Business School at the University of Navarra says the sponsors are now in serious trouble.

"It's not that they're in bad shape," he says. "They're in freefall. So the first thing they cut is sports sponsorship."

Gomez says more than half the companies with season box seats have canceled them. Former champion Deportivo La Coruna is itself almost bankrupt after its main sponsor, developer Martinsa-Fadesa, collapsed last summer, and Mallorca's owner is struggling to sell the club after his real estate firm went into receivership. And the list goes on.

Gomez expects foreign buyers will come to the rescue, but Spaniards are passionate about their soccer teams. So if any go under, Spanish politicians will be under a lot of pressure to bail them out.

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