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Real Madrid president Perez needs to live within his means after collapse of Super League scheme

While Real Madrid midfielder Antonio Blanco was impressing on his full debut at Cadiz’s Ramon de Carranza stadium, 700 miles north east in the capital, his president Florentino Perez was waiting at Cadena SER’s studio to defend his failed plan to “save football”.

Those were Perez’s words, and words with which the vast majority of the football world disagreed.

The 74-year-old Super League president is not exactly a master of public relations, of course.  Hurriedly launching the project late on a Sunday night with him as the lead figure was a mistake.  Following that up with an interview on El Chiringuito – a trashy football ‘debate’ show – compounded the error and made its failure inevitable.

Although the accommodating hosts produced statistics plucked from thin air which seemed to back up the idea that fans across Europe crave a Super League, the reaction everywhere else made a mockery of those numbers.

The biggest backlash arrived in England, with fans of the six clubs included in the project rejecting the idea as vehemently as the Premier League, Serie A, La Liga and UEFA.

Perez’s plot was revealed as nothing more than a scheme to save his own club, and ironically their most bitter rivals Barcelona, who are in the same sinking ship, burdened with heavy debt.

Teams like Chelsea and Manchester City were among those to jump on board the Super League train at the last minute for fear of being left behind, with the Clasico duo (at least until Joan Laporta took over at Barcelona) and Premier League powerhouses Manchester United and Liverpool the driving forces behind it all.

Paris Saint-Germain did not sign up but, in a way, they were a key factor in the creation of the Super League. The likes of Madrid have had their noses put of joint by the emergence of clubs such as PSG and City, who have access to seemingly bottomless wells of oil money.

In a bid to keep the nouveau riche at bay, the old order have been over-extending themselves, spending far too much on transfers and player wages.

However, with JP Morgan having now taken their billions off the table after seeing the project fall apart, Madrid and Perez have to find a new solution to their economic issues.

Perez, who sold Madrid’s training ground to the city authorities for €501 million (£436m/$606m) in 2001 after a reclassification of the land to clear the club’s mounting debt, has dealt with financial problems before.

Back then, the sale allowed him to build his collection of Galacticos, and 20 years on, he hoped to celebrate the anniversary with the Super League launch.

The land bought by the city two decades ago became the most valuable plot in the whole of Spain as a result, with the EU suspecting they paid over the odds to help pull Real Madrid out of their debt hole.

Four skyscrapers were built there. “The Figo tower, the Zidane tower, the Ronaldo tower and the Beckham tower,” wrote ABC newspaper, given Perez’s ACS construction group was involved in their building.

Earlier this year, meanwhile, the European Commission ordered Madrid and Barcelona to repay millions in state aid.

Los Blancos have around €900m (£785m/$1 billion) of gross debt, putting them in a position nearly as bad as Barcelona, whose problems have been widely discussed as they try to negotiate a new contract for captain Lionel Messi.

His Madrid counterpart Sergio Ramos could also leave La Liga this summer,  given the Blancos refused to meet his financial demands over extending a contract that expires in two months.

Ramos’ usual central-defensive partner Raphael Varane is another concern, with the Frenchman’s deal set to run out in 2022.


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