Florentino Perez has been the president of Real Madrid for almost 20 years. He took control of the club amidst serious financial difficulties in 2000, and implemented a course correction that’s seen them become the super power they are today. Now, in an interview with Diario AS, he’s casting his gaze further afield.
The Super League was launched last week. It’s an elite league founded by 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs, including Atletico Madrid, Barcelona and Real Madrid from La Liga as well as Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, Juventus, Milan and Internazionale.
The six English clubs have all withdrawn their participation after coming under serious pressure from their supporters and the wider footballing culture in England. The Italian clubs have followed suit, although with less explicit statements. Within this context, Florentino, the president of the Super League, was asked whether the project is dead in the water.
“The company exists and the clubs that make up the Super League, too,” Florentino said. “What we have done has been to give ourselves a few weeks to reflect on the virulence with which some people who do not want to lose their privileges have manipulated the project.”
Many have criticised the launch of the Super League, with the timing unusual and the branding and communication of the idea amateur when considering the supposed competence of those involved. For Florentino, however, the reaction would have been the same no matter how they launched.
“The reaction of those privileged few would have been the same,” he said. “UEFA’s president issued harsh warnings to the Super League in January. We wanted to discuss the details with UEFA, but they didn’t give us the time. An orchestrated, manipulated operation was organised, to a degree I’ve never seen.
“The Super League project is the best one possible, and has been done to help football come out of the crisis [it’s in]. Football is seriously hurting because its economy is sinking and we have to adapt to the times we live in. Something has to be done because the youth, people between 14 and 24, are abandoning football. It bores them compared to the entertainment they prefer. There are four billion football fans all over the world, and half of them are fans of Super League clubs. Football is the only global sport.
“KPMG’s report, only three months into the pandemic which affected last season, showed losses for the 12 Super League clubs of €650m. This year, with a full pandemic season, the losses will be between €2bn and €2.5bn. Bordeaux have just gone bankrupt. Either we do something soon or a lot of clubs will go bust.”