Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium to be renamed Abu Dhabi Bernabéu

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Real Madrid’s Bernabéu stadium

Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabéu stadium will be renamed the Abu Dhabi Bernabéu, according to reports in Spanish media. The report has not been confirmed by Real Madrid but their president, Florentino Pérez, was caught on camera admitting to a member of the regional government that the stadium will be called whatever the Abu Dhabi investment group International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) wants it to be called.

Madrid signed a ‘long-term strategic partnership’ deal with IPIC at the end of October 2014, aimed at strengthening the club’s status as the world’s richest, and help fund a planned stadium overhaul.

IPIC owns the Spanish petrol company Cepsa and is in turn owned by the Gulf emirate. No figures were given but Pérez presented it as an agreement that would enable Madrid to carry out the redevelopment of the Bernabéu.

The agreement includes setting up Real museums and expanding their soccer schools around the world, as well as creating content for digital media platforms, said IPIC, which is owned by the Abu Dhabi government.

The deal was understood to be worth €3 million a year until Madrid begin work, when IPIC would pay €20 million a year. Madrid have not said that the stadium will be renamed although Pérez has admitted that it might be given a ‘surname’.

Privately, he was more explicit. In mid-November TV cameras caught Pérez talking to Lucia Fijar, in charge of the department for sport and education in Madrid’s regional government, following an event organised to present a commercial deal with Microsoft, who had originally been touted as among the candidates to buy naming rights for the stadium. “We’ll call it IPIC Bernabéu or whatever they want… or Cepsa Bernabéu,” Pérez said.

Now media reports suggest that the stadium will be called the Abu Dhabi Bernabéu after IPIC was rejected as a name. Whether that is the final decision remains to be seen but its days of being just the Santiago Bernabéu are numbered.

Real chose a design led by German architects GMP for the remodelling of the Bernabéu, which was opened in the 1950s and holds just over 80,000 spectators. The club hopes the work, which would see a striking new roof and exterior added to the current structure and include a hotel and a shopping centre, can be completed by 2017.

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