Florentino Perez has been at the helm of Real Madrid for the best part of 20 years. Love him or hate him, his longevity and trophy haul are only bettered by the legendary Santiago Bernabeu.
With sweeping stadium renovations incoming, Perez seems set to leave as imposing a legacy as Don Santiago aswell and further ensure his place as one of the club’s grestest ever presidents. Those renovations are due to finish in 2023 and will require Perez to seek a fourth term in office should he wish to oversee the opening of the new Bernabeu. By the end of that fourth term in office, Perez will 78-years-old. Though age is unlikely to stop Uncle Flo, potentially achieved almost all the goals by the 2026 elections offers him a chance to bow out on a high and hand the reigns to someone else. Should he do so, who might would that person be?
As one might have gathered by Florentino’s largely unopposed spell as president, becoming top honcho at Real Madrid is hard and requires passing a demanding selection process. The club demands, among other things, that presidential hopefuls must be Spanish and have no less than 20 “uninterrupted” years as a socio to be considered for the job. Spanish sports law also requires potential candidates to bring a bank guarantee of 15% of the club’s expenses for the following year.
These demands, particularly financially, knock-out almost every candidate barring Perez. Real Madrid’s operating income was 751 million in 2017/18 and is likely only to rise in the coming years. Fortunately, there is potential to adapt the financial demands in a post-Perez era. For instance, Barcelona allow an entire board of directors to collectively offer the 15% guarantee rather than just one presidential candidate.
The Spanish law that demands a 15% guarantee also stipulates that it only need be submitted when the club’s income is 15% or excess of that for a year. It’s a club demand at Real Madrid that the guarantee be submitted before the election.
In a Perezless election, Real Madrid’s general assembly and election board would likely have to comprise on some of its financial demands and, if they do so, this would open up the presidency to several candidates;
Let’s start at least likely. Although he would be around the same age as Perez come a potential election, Ramon Calderon would likely be among those looking to succeed Perez. The former lawyer spends much of his time grumbling about the current administration to anyone willing to listen and is clearly still angry about his achievements at the club being overlooked (he signed Ronaldo you know).
The weaknesses of Calderon’s bid are also reasons why he might consider opting out of the presidential race. Due to the fashion of how he got into office the last time, it’s not certain that he’d even be allowed to run. Even if he was allowed, he would be a very unpopular choice among socios due to the mismanagement and corruption that defined his first stint as president.
Nadal is the romantic’s choice for the job. Being lifelong Real Madrid fan and one of Spain’s greatest ever sportsman makes the tennis player an attractive option among socios and fans alike. The 32-year-old has also been vocal in his interest to become president.
Of course, there are some issues with Nadal’s bid, the first being that he wouldn’t be eligible to run until 2031 as he only became a socio in 2011. Nadal’s suitability to the job is also questionable, a couple of typical business ventures for an athlete of his stature and a 10% share in RCD Mallorca are the only past experiences that could possibly help him run a football club.
There is certainly an argument to be made for Nadal, he is very young and still has plenty of tennis left to play before he starts thinking about other full time pursuits. Madridistas will just have to enjoy him on the court rather than in the Bernabeu president box for now.
The Vulture is an under-discussed candidate for the Real Madrid presidency. His playing days ensure he would be a popular choice based on name alone and his post retirement CV is highly impressive. Having finished a business degree shortly after retirement, Butragueño has been an ever presence in Florentino Perez’s board. He has so far served as vice-president, club chairman and is the current head of public relations.
Being such a perfect candidate, there would have a glaring flaw: he doesn’t seem to want the job. Though there is nothing concrete regarding this assertion, El Buitre loyalty to Perez, that he left the vice-presidency when Perez left in 2006 and that he has never stated an interest in the job suggest he doesn’t want it. Naturally, I could be wrong now or in the future, but for now, Butragueño lack of ambition makes him a dark horse.
Of all the potential candidates, Sanchis is the only one who ticks all the boxes. The former defender is a legend in Real Madrid circles for both his own and his father’s playing days at the club, He has past experience working both in business, through managing his own private investments and in football, having organised youth tournaments in the past. He has also stated an interest in the job in the past making him an early favourite to succeed the incumbent.
By topping this list, Sanchis rounds off an interesting selection of potential future presidents, each promising something different to the current administration thanks to their varied backgrounds. Naturally, this list isn’t conclusive, one of Perez’s three current vice-presidents might opt to run, maybe through sheer good fortune you might be Real Madrid’s next president. Regardless of who might come forward in the coming years, what will remain certain is that they will have big shoes to fill.