Real Madrid: Florentino Perez is staying ahead of the curve

Real Madrid's president Florentino Perez arrives to attend the draw for UEFA Champions League football tournament at The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on August 30, 2018. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images)
Real Madrid's president Florentino Perez arrives to attend the draw for UEFA Champions League football tournament at The Grimaldi Forum in Monaco on August 30, 2018. (Photo by Valery HACHE / AFP) (Photo credit should read VALERY HACHE/AFP/Getty Images) /

Club President and top dog Florentino Perez is often a man of mystery, he doesn’t give away too much making it hard to gauge where his mindset is. But in recent history, he hasn’t disappointed the fans of Real Madrid.

Florentino Perez leads the biggest club in the world from the boardroom and has been one of the most prominent men in the modern history of the club. His policies in the boardroom have been forward thinking, while also translating into successes on the pitch.

A civil engineer by trade, Perez grew up watching the all-conquering teams of the 50s and 60s with Santiago Bernabeu as the President of the club. Those teams and Bernabeu, both had a profound influence on how he viewed Real Madrid as a club.

The First Term

When elected as the club President for the first time in 2000, financially Madrid was struggling. Perez has been a construction magnate for most of his career knew and all the financial intricacies. He sold the land on which Real used to train to the Madrid City council and built a brand new training facility near the airport. This new training facility now includes 11 pitches for all tiers of Real Madrid first and youth teams to train on. It also has the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium for the Castilla side.

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The aim for Perez was to make Real Madrid a global brand by buying superstars and household name players. In came Figo, Zidane, the Brazilian Ronaldo and Beckham. Beckham’s presentation was kept at 11 a.m. for viewers in Asia.

It became the most televised event in the world after Princess Diana’s funeral. These signings became known as The Galacticos. This model to some extent is being employed by the nouveau riche clubs like Manchester City and PSG.

The success on and off the pitch was instant, the club won two league titles and one Champions League in the first three years, while also getting huge commercial revenues and became a juggernaut. Under this model, the players bought were in their late 20s and lacked proper squad depth. Thus it couldn’t build on a sustained period of success.

After a trophy-less 2006, Perez resigned from the post of the president. When he did leave, he had made the club more secure financially.

The Second Term

Perez came back to power in 2009 and that summer alone saw Madrid bring in big-name players like Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema, Kaka, and Xabi Alonso among others. Bale and James became the other players in the Galacticos 2.0. 

But, the last among those, James arrived back in 2014. There has been a conscious shift in transfer policy at the club over the past few seasons.

For years, Real reigned supreme in terms of revenues in club football, but the ever-rising Premier League TV rights deals have caused the English clubs to get richer and richer.

Now also with the new breed of clubs which are effectively state owned by oil-rich Middle Eastern countries like PSG (Qatar) and Manchester City (Abu Dhabi) and their seemingly endless supply of money, Perez knows its impossible for a socio (fan) owned club like Real Madrid to go into a bidding war for every top player.

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So now, Perez has started to buy younger players with high ceiling, instead of buying an already established star for hundreds of millions of euros. Contrast to the earlier model, now players brought in are in their early 20’s or are even teenagers.

These players might not be ready for the first team at the time, hence the club intends to use intelligent loans and buybacks to get them ready for the first team.

Having already built a strong winning core in the team, the club has given itself enough time to develop them without giving up on trophies in the short-term. This is great for Real Madrid to stay competitive in the transfer market and on the pitch.

The Bernabeu Renovation Project

Former President, Santiago Bernabeu is an idol of Perez. Bernabeu built a huge stadium (named after him) in the heart of Madrid’s financial district by loaning money from banks. It was deemed to be a not so wise move at the time, but Bernabeu, ever the visionary knew that a new stadium was the way to greater revenues while also being the icon of the club.

Now, Perez is also thinking along the same lines. The new proposed project for a revamped Santiago Bernabeu aims at modernizing the stadium. This is great for a global brand like Real Madrid. It increases the marketability of the club and thus brings in new commercial partners and increasing the reach of the club’s brand.

The inclusion of a hotel and a shopping center is also proposed which will bring further revenues to the club. Modernising of stadiums is being looked at by most top clubs in Europe as Manchester United, Chelsea, Barcelona, and Manchester City among others and once again Perez is ahead of the curve.

While overseeing the most successful era at the club both on and off the pitch in the modern era, Perez wants to cement his legacy at Real Madrid and he is well on his way to do just that.

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