Off the pitch, President Florentino Perez has turned Real Madrid into one of the world’s richest and most powerful teams. The Real Madrid brand is one of the strongest in football. Despite the fact that some have said that La Liga is losing its charm and attraction, Los Blancos seem to continue to enjoy constant off-the-field monetary success. Yet, with the announcement that Microsoft has held talks with the club over possibly renaming the club’s famous and historical stadium, questions have been raised – will fans put up with it and how much is too much?
Florentino ran unopposed this summer as he sought re-election. For some that is a sign of the confidence that Real Madrid socios have in him. For others it is a sign of how undemocratic the system has become under him. Some fans protested but their voices went unheard as Perez and the board imposed new rules in 2012. Among others, two major requirements to stand for elections at Real Madrid President were announced:
1) You must provide a deposit or bank guarantee of at least 15 per cent of the club’s annual budget, equating to around €76m last season.
2) You must have been a club socio for a minimum of 20 years.
Apart from the new rules being presented, Perez also commented on what the future may hold for the Santiago Bernabeu. This became the big story.
There had been some debate about building a new ground, but Perez said that the club wished to develop the area around the current stadium. He said that some improvements to facilities already in place were needed but that plans to open commercial businesses around the area could see the club’s coffers bulging even further.
The idea, he said towards the end of the summer, was to have families come and spend the whole match day in the area by shopping, eating, relaxing and then watching football. He added at the end that to make this dream a reality, the club needed to raise money. One idea that was mentioned was to possibly allow a sponsor’s name on the stadium.
The next day one newspaper ran an article about how Arsenal and Manchester City had enjoyed great financial success by allowing their sponsors name on their ground. What it failed to mention was that both clubs were playing in new grounds and not a stadium that dated back to the 1940s and had witnessed decades of success and joy. Real Madrid fans at first didn’t voice their concern but since the summer the tide has somewhat turned on Perez.
Once adored, this summer’s pursuit of Gareth Bale and the sale of Mesut Ozil have turned some fans against their beloved President. Some sections feel that Carlo Ancelotti is a mere ‘yes man’ and his appointment allows Perez a voice in the dressing room.
Since Microsoft announced that talks have taken place, some fans have further voiced their displeasure and it is only going to get worse. Can Perez weather out another storm or could this be the final straw? It could be that his latest gamble is his undoing.