What next for troubled Real Madrid?

January 17th, 2009 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Madrid, Jan 17 (DPA) The question on the lips of Real Madrid’s millions of fans Saturday is: what next?On Friday the embattled Ramon Calderon tearfully resigned as president because of the scandal of the fake assembly delegates, handing over power to close friend Vicente Boluda.

Boluda, a 53 year-old shipping magnate, thus becomes the sixth president in just three stormy years.

What comes next for the troubled Spanish giants?

It is assumed by most of the Spanish media that Boluda will be content with being an interim president and organising elections for June, without being candidate himself.

However, sports daily AS Saturday expressed the fear that Boluda might decide to put himself forward as a candidate, which could deepen the club’s crisis.

AS also claims that the resignation of Calderon means that Real will make no more winter signings, in addition to Klaas Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarra.

Pedja Mijatovic continues as sporting director, for the time being, but remains an unpopular and divisive figure.

New coach Juande Ramos will try to keep pace with runaway leaders Barcelona at the top of La Liga - no easy feat given that the Catalans are 12 points ahead - at the same time as trying to get Real beyond the Champions League round of 16 for the first time since 2004.

Real face Liverpool in the round of 16, with the return leg to be played at Anfield.

Who will be the principal candidates in the elections, to be held probably in June?

The front-runner right now is no other than Florentino Perez, president from 2000 to 2006 before quitting unexpectedly and provoking a massive crisis.

Perez has so far been ambivalent about standing again, giving hints in both directions.

He may been encouraged to put himself forward by fans nostalgic for the days when “Galactico” stars like Ronaldo, Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham bestrode the Estadio Bernabeu.

Perez is, today, more remembered for the glamour of the Galactico era than for the chaos of his final year in office, with 78 percent of members apparently prepared to vote for him again, according to an AS online poll.

A second possible candidate is Juan Miguel Villar Mir, the son of the businessman who lost to Calderon in controversial circumstances in 2006, with a local judge having annulled all of the postal votes.

Juan Palacios, another losing candidate in 2006 - the man who headed for the law courts to denounce electoral fraud - might also decide to have another try.

Rally driver Carlos Sainz, a long-time Real member, is another possible candidate. In 2006 he was the running-mate of Villar Mir.

Sainz returned to Madrid Friday after his luckless exit from the Paris-Dakar rally, and told the media that “there is time to think about it (being a candidate)”.

One man sure to stand is Eugenio Martinez, a 39-year-old economist who has worked hard to shed light on Calderon’s mistakes and irregularities.

Martinez may be attractive as a young “new broom”, as was Joan Laporta at Barcelona in 2003.

Another man who has already declared his intention to stand is Juan Villalonga, close friend of former Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and controversial president of Telefonica during its privatisation in the late 1990s.

Villalonga, however, may have blotted his copy book in the eyes of “madridista” fans by trying to take over at Valencia last summer.

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