A sideways look at Spanish football
Tim Stannard and Simon Talbot
To avoid a repeat of the deplorably dishonest presidential elections of 2006, a poll the local Colombos are still combing through - “One more thing before you go, Mr Calderón...” - Real Madrid’s bigwigs came up with a rather nifty plan... don’t have them.
And that’s pretty much how Florentino Pérez came to strut onto the stage at Castle Greyskull on Monday afternoon to announce the return of truth and justice to the “world’s greatest sporting institution,” making it sound more like a life insurance company rather than a club where men have fun kicking a ball about.
Although there was never any doubt over the outright winner of the Real Madrid rat-race, Pérez was reclaiming his place at the Bernabeu buffet a fortnight early, seeing as he was the only one whose candidature was accepted.
The seats held their own protest
That’s not to say there weren’t any other challengers for post. There were, but all failed to meet the exacting requirements listed in Madrid’s statutes.
Namely: must have been a member for 10 years; must be Spanish; must be stinking rich; must have the initials FP.
As president of the multi-trillion dollar ACS corporation, Florentino's not short of a bob or two.
And this is why he was the only presidential pretender who could come up with 57 million euro - or 15 percent of the club’s deposit - required to enter the official race.
The original idea of the cash deposit was the heart-warming notion that anyone wanting to stand in the race would have to be so rich that stealing from the club would not be a motivating factor for taking role.
And, to be fair, this statute has prevented a couple of shady characters getting anywhere near the Bernabeu this time round.
Juan Onieva’s presidential campaign lasted just one day after his electoral video featured a six-fingered JFK and he made the claim that Barack Obama became a Real Madrid fan by seeing the team playing in black during their ninth European Cup win.
The last candidate to pull out of the poll was Eduardo García, a peculiar 29-year-old who was backed by an organisation for the disabled (OID) that has just been fined 120,000 euro for illegal activities.
Or, so say Marca, a pro-Pérez paper with an interest in making all other competitors look less than wholesome.
However, this ruling over a multimillion-euro deposit or ‘aval’ means that anyone who is not fortunate enough to be filthy rich or have filthy rich friends cannot be president of Real Madrid.
But despite this notion that Pérez and his posse are too rich to need to stick their paws into the Real Madrid cookie jar, the new president has reportedly forced his 15 buddies on the board to sign promises not to exploit the club for their own means.
Unless it involves selling off the training ground or other pieces of real estate, that is.
In fact, it's hard to know quite why he needs 15 greying old men on the club’s payroll to help him run the team’s affairs.
“It’s as if he is going to start a special journey into space rather than run the club for four years,” notes Roberto Palomar in Marca.
RM's new website editor reports for duty
In a five-minute acceptance speech only briefly interrupted by the Real Madrid anthem blaring out over the speakers, Florentino Pérez called for “the unity of the fans.”
To tell the truth, La Liga Loca feels that this demand is a little bit rich considering that not one of the 70,000 club’s socios were able to vote either for or against their new figurehead.
After all, even Ramón Calderón got a good 10 percent of the ballot in the 2006 election – the one that was suspended after accusations of vote-tampering.
While it is true that the whole changeover process was managed in a more dignified manner than three years ago, it doesn’t alter the simple fact that Florentino Pérez’s return to the Bernabeu was a coronation, not an election.
At no point did members get the chance to challenge the wisdom of potentially increasing the club’s debt by some 200m-300m euro, should all of the current transfer rumours come true.
There was no opportunity for supporters to cast doubt on his claims of wanting to ‘Spanishize’ the squad, considering the 17 purchases of his last tenure included just one Spanish player, Sergio Ramos.
Instead, Pérez has returned to Real Madrid with a cheesy smile and flashy names - Look, Zidane! Look, Kaká! - in the hope that everyone will forget that what was supposed to be a democratic institution has turned into a monarchy.
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New Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez is considering taking a sponsor’s name for the Santiago Bernabeu stadium.
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(A clipboard-wielding wonk notes: usual FFT terms and conditions apply.)
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La Liga Talentspotter
At least this time he can't let Iker's contract nearly expire (Speaking of whom, I have just watched four of Iker's Groupama ads. I'm in a minority here but I liked them.)
Really, What else are we to expect from Real? For half a decade now they have been playing out there own twisted version of Dallas. This was just Bobby stepping out of the shower handled with the same amount of style and sutbly.
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