"Florentino has a megalomaniac obsession with remodelling the stadium"
Ex-Real Madrid president Ramón Calderon has blasted the decision to spend 575 million euros on upgrading the Bernabéu and given his thoughts on Zidane and Ronaldo's departure.
Former president of Real Madrid, Ramon Calderón, has given an interview on Argentinean radio, in which he was severely critical of current president Florentino Pérez and the decision to spend 575 million euros on the remodelling of the Santiago Bernabéu stadium.
Last September, club members overwhelming approved Pérez's plan to borrow up to 575 million euros for the stadium upgrade, which will entail putting a metallic “skin” and a retractable roof around the existing structure, but will not add extra seating capacity.
According to Calderón, who presided over the club from 2006 to 2009, the plan for the Bernabéu is an unnecessary waste of money.
"Florentino has a megalomaniac obsession with remodelling the stadium we have, which is magnificent as it is now. I managed to get the Champions League final in 2009 because UEFA considered it to be one of the two or three best stadiums in Europe,” he explained.
“Nobody has complained about the stadium. He (Pérez) now wants to spend 575 million. And this is spending, not investing, because people do not need it. It is already a magnificent stadium, with modern facilities.”
Calderón also warned that the money used to pay back the loan for the stadium upgrade will be diverted from funds that could be used to buy players; and argued that Madrid fans are more concerned about players and winning trophies than an upgraded stadium.
"This will also lead to him (Pérez) not investing players. The fans care about the content not the container. People want to celebrate titles in Plaza Cibeles and not celebrate a model of a very nice stadium,” Calderón stated.
“The Bernabéu stadium is an icon for the city of Madrid. Maybe some retouching may be needed, but never a remodelling at such a high cost.”
Calderón on Ronaldo sale
Aside from the stadium remodelling plan, Calderón also gave his version of the events that led to Cristiano’s Ronaldo’s departure from Madrid, and claimed that leaving the Portuguese star go was “a historical mistake”.
“Cristiano asked for a raise after winning the Champions League and Florentino denied it. Cristiano also got angry because he heard that Madrid would be willing to pay a lot of money for Neymar.
"Florentino told him that if he brought in a check for 100 million euros he would let him go and that's how it was,” claimed the former Madrid president, who also pointed out that it was he, and not Pérez, who brought Ronaldo to the Bernabéu.
"Florentino did not accept that Cristiano was a signing of mine,” he claimed. “I don’t deny that he has been a great president for Madrid, but he does not accept well the inheritances that he receives. The same happened to him with Casillas, Raúl, Robben and Sneijder.”
Calderón also spoke about the situation that coach Santiago Solari has inherited at Madrid and only had empathy for the Argentine coach, who he believes is doing the best with the cards he has been dealt.
"Now as coach he's doing what he can. He's not the one to blame for this bad situation we're in. He's struggling with what he's been given,” he said. “He took the team, after another coach (Julen Lopetegui) was fired, after Zidane left because he clearly knew what was going to happen."
On Zidane’s departure, Calderon claims that, like Ronaldo, the French coach decided to leave after Pérez was unwilling to bow to his wishes. "It is clear that Zidane asked Florentino Pérez for something that was not granted,” he said. “One of the demands was that Cristiano never leave.”