Monday, February 27, 2006

Florentino Perez resigned as president of Real Madrid

In a surprising announcement, Florentino Perez resigned as president of Real Madrid on Monday, and left the club after spending millions to assemble a star-laden roster that has been unable to claim a major title in nearly three years.

The decision came a day after Real Madrid was defeated by Mallorca 2-1, leaving the club in third place in the Spanish league, 10 points behind front-runner and arch rival Barcelona.

Perez told reporters that the board had accepted his resignation _ effective immediately _ and that it had unanimously appointed Fernando Martin Alvarez as his successor.

"The institution needed a change. We're not in the best shape,'' Perez admitted, who took over as president in July 2000. "We had tried changing coaches several times and that didn't seem to work, so the only other option left was for me to leave.''

Besides the loss at Mallorca, Madrid was beaten 1-0 at home on Wednesday by Arsenal in the European Champions League.

"I have spent some of the most intense and best years of my life as president of the club,'' Perez said.

Perez said that during his presidency Madrid had become the richest club in the world and had become master of its own destiny, but had failed to secure the success on the field that the fans expected.

"This change can propel the club forward for the rest of this season and into the future,'' Perez said.

In fact, Perez, who is also president of construction giant ACS, took charge of the powerhouse after winning a poll of club members.

Is important to know that he set out to make the club a global brand, spending euro415.3 million (US$492 million) on 17 new players, including a record euro75.1 million (US$89 million) to acquire French midfielder Zinedine Zidane from Juventus in 2001.

Initially using cash from the sale of the club's training ground on prime real estate to the Madrid city government, Perez also acquired players such as England's David Beckham, Portugal's Luis Figo and Brazil's Ronaldo, earning the collection of superstars the title of "Los Galacticos''.

Inded, the strategy resulted in increased financial success based on exploitation of Madrid's huge marketing potential around the world, especially in Asia and the Far East.

We can say that the powerhouse recently replaced Manchester United as the world's richest soccer club according to an independent report released by accounting firm Deloitte.

Madrid increased its revenue by 17 percent to euro275.7 million (US$327 million) for the 2004-05 season.

Madrid enjoyed initial on the field success under Perez, winning a record ninth European Champions Cup in 2002 and the Spanish league titles in 2001 and 2003 _ the latter for a record 29th time.

However, the team's performance declined following Perez's surprise decision a day after winning the 2003 title to sack Vicente del Bosque, the coach who had led the team to its most recent triumphs.

The next season, Beckham's first, Madrid failed to win a trophy for the first time in Perez's presidency and lost a club-record five straight to end the year.

However, Perez still secured a landslide re-election as club president in 2004, pledging to turn Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium into "the world's best.''

The centerpiece of his project was to refurbish the 80,000-seat venue with a steel-and-glass sliding roof, which would be in place by 2008. A new training ground also was inaugurated east of the city, near Madrid's international airport.

Is good to mention that the star-studded team's slump has continued unabated ever since, with Madrid unable to win a major trophy despite the appointment of six coaches in three years: Vicente del Bosque, Carlos Queiroz, Jose Antonio Camacho, Mariano Garcia Remon, Vanderlei Luxemburgo and Juan Ramon Lopez Caro.

Madrid's discomfort has been aggravated by the resurgence of FC Barcelona, which won last year's league crown and appears headed to repeating.

Fans repeatedly have displayed their annoyance at their squad and at its coaches, although Perez largely escaped their frustration.

For the record, The last president to resign was Ramon Mendoza, who quit in 1995.

Mallorca beated Real Madrid 2-1

Real Madrid's chance to take back La Liga's second place spot came and went on Sunday, as the club lost an important game against 16th place Mallorca, 2-1.

Altouhg they scored early in the first half, Real Madrid allowed the equalizer on a penalty kick, and conceded the game-winning goal in the 80th minute.

Madrid has 48 points through 25 matches and trails second place Valencia by just two points. A win would have bumped the team into second place, however, Sunday's loss keeps Real at third with only a slight lead for third place.

Midfielder Thomas Gravesen scored first in the 23rd minute to give Real the early lead. Mallorca's Leonardo Pisculichi scored the equalizer on a penalty kick in the 53rd to make it a brand new game.

With ten minutes until the final whistle, Juan Arango scored Mallorca's second goal, the game-winner to take the 2-1 win at home.

This victory is Mallorca's sixth La Liga victory.