White elephant airport sponsors bankrupt team

The infamous ghost airport of Castellón is back on the agenda today as news emerged that the airport has paid 660,000 euros to the bankruptcy threatened football Club Deportivo Castellón.

The money has been paid as part of a retrospective settlement, honouring a shirt sponsorship deal made by Aerocas, the airport operation company who are 99 per cent owned by the Valencian regional government. The sponsorship deal with the club was for the 2009-2010 football season.

The airport is a potent symbol of the wasteful spending culture that helped push Spain deep into recession and the subsequent banking crisis that is still being felt today.

The airport cost taxpayers an estimated 150 -170 million euros and was awash with tales of cronyism, massive cost overruns, corruption, delays and wasteful overspending that included an 80 foot tall statue, costing an estimated 600,000 euros honouring Carlos Fabra, the longstanding head of Castellón’s provincial government and the driving force behind the airport project. Fabra has recently been sentenced to four years in jail for fraud.

Thirty five million euros was spent on advertising and a further 26 million euros was spent sponsoring various sports teams in the region. Club Deportivo Castellón have received 2.42 million euros from Aerocas since 2006.

Delighted Club President, David Cruz, joyfully described the deal as, “A very significant breath of fresh air for the income and economic stability.”

The official auditor for Valencia’s regional government has been questioning the legality of the payments for some time.

The club are currently in bankruptcy protection with a debt of 5.3 million euros of which 2.3 million euros is earmarked for the treasury, 420,000 euros to Social Security, 1.4 million euros to Bankia and 265,000 euros to utility companies.

The airport which has never had a commercial flight arrive or depart is on schedule to reopen for business in November 2015. The regional government have signed a contract with a Canadian company SNC Lavalin, which will be responsible for the management and operation of the airport. The contract is worth 24.5 million euros over the next decade to the Canadian group and will be paid by the Valencian tax payer.

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