“We will not go the United States. We categorically refuse”, Florentino Pérez told club members at yesterday’s General Assembly when asked about the chances of Real Madrid's participation in the LaLiga North America initiative. This time, he has sided with Luis Rubiales, with whom he had a huge bust-up for hiring Julen Lopetegui behind his back. In a sense, you could say they have now formed an alliance against a common enemy. As the saying goes: “My enemies’ enemies are my friends”, but that’s not quite the case here. Tebas’ plan to promote the expansion of LaLiga in North America has encountered an enemy in Florentino because it rivals his own strategy to increase Real Madrid’s presence in the US market. The reality is that he couldn’t really care less about any enterprise involving LaLiga or the national team but what does matter to him is any direct competition which might hamper his own interests.
Modernizing the Bernabéu
Anyway, the main aim of Sunday’s Assembly was to get the go ahead from the members for the club to go into debt to refurbish the Santiago Bernabéu, without increasing seating capacity, which nobody has called for. This whole affair started a few years ago with a certain Khadem Al-Qubaisi, an alleged international con man; the scheme was going to receive huge funding in return for renaming the stadium “IPIC” or something along those lines... remember? But even after the con artist vanished into thin air, Florentino remains keen on the idea which is why he needs to find 575 million euros - an amount he doesn’t have himself. And that explains why the club has not made so many big signings in recent years – it suggests that Madrid don’t have as much money to burn as we previously thought.
Someone else can foot the bill
And of course, club members were compliant and voted in favour. The Assembly, to which usually half of those called actually turn up, has been well purged of any dissenting voices. For a motion of this magnitude, the statutes address the possibility of holding a referendum involving all of the club members (like Barcelona did their Espai Barça project); but for Florentino, receiving the vote of 1,017 members – 1.08% of the electorate was enough because he can approve it. He claims that he can pay off the credit Madrid would receive with ease, and I’m sure he can. With friends in high places within the banking business, it’s a doddle getting low interest credit with relaxed, flexible conditions. And if the whole thing goes bust, no need to worry - there’s always the tax payer to bail them out...