This is not a petanque club ”. With this sentence he aired Florentino Pérez, in the extraordinary meeting of Real Madrid in September 2012, the modification of article 40 of the statutes that protects access to the seat of honor at the Santiago Bernabeu.
The peculiarities of the Madrid electoral system attest to the personality of the white club, in which no votes have been taken to elect a new president since July 2006, when Ramón Calderón triumphed with enormous controversy. It was a rough campaign and an electoral day defined as “chaotic” in the press the next day. With five candidates and nearly 28,000 votes, Calderón won by just 246, but with the vote by mail – between 8,000 and 10,000, according to the versions – paralyzed in a court. At dawn, the electoral board announced the result of the face-to-face vote and asked the dean of the Madrid bar association for help in deciding whether or not to proclaim Calderón president.
FOURTEEN YEARS WITHOUT VOTING. There has been no vote in Madrid since that day. Calderón resigned mid-term and on June 1, 2009 Florentino Pérez, unopposed, began his second stage in the white presidency (the previous one, from 2000 to 2006). Pérez has been re-elected, always without an opponent, in 2013 and 2017 and is preparing to repeat again in 2021, largely protected by the unique characteristics of the white constitution. From the outset, as has been reported, voting by mail is allowed in Madrid (not in Barcelona), the terms of office are four years (six in Barça) and there is no limit on re-elections (two terms at most in the Blaugrana entity).
THE REQUIREMENTS. But the statutory differences between the two greats of Spanish football go much further. In Madrid, it is not necessary to collect signatures from partners to become a candidate, while in the case of Barcelona it is an essential requirement to have the valid support of a number equivalent to at least 50% of the delegated partners (in the next elections they will need 2,257 signatures). In Madrid, on the other hand, the great obstacle for those who wish to aspire to the presidency is in another point: the presentation of a bank guarantee with very specific requirements, as indicated in article 40 of the statutes. It must be supported by “any credit institution or savings bank registered by the Bank of Spain”, must guarantee “at least 15% of the expense budget” and must state that it will “automatically” become a definitive guarantee in the event that the candidacy is elected.
In Barcelona, the 15% guarantee is not presented until the candidate is elected president, while in Madrid it is an unavoidable precondition for running for president. According to the last approved budget of the club of the Spanish capital (2019-2020), the guarantee would now amount to 123 million euros.
In Madrid, you do not have to collect signatures from partners, but rather present the bank guarantee to be a candidate
During the first term of Florentino Pérez (in its second stage), on September 30, 2012, an extraordinary assembly further hardened these requirements, adding that “in said guarantee, the credit or savings institution must state that it issues that it has been granted taking into account the personal assets of the candidates, and with the sole and exclusive guarantee of the personal assets of said candidates ”.
TWENTY YEARS OLD. And yet another turn of the screw was missing. That same day another shield of the white presidency was approved, which corresponds to the personal requirements that the applicant must meet: in addition to being Spanish, of legal age and being up-to-date with payment, “being a member of the club with, at least, twenty years of uninterrupted seniority in the case of the president, fifteen years for the vice presidents and ten years in the other cases ”. Until that date a ten-year seniority was required, which Florentino Pérez multiplied by two.
Also in this aspect the statutes of FC Barcelona diverge. To be president of Barça, “Catalan civil residence” and ten years of seniority are required (five to be a manager).
Madrid’s statutory changes in 2012 were approved by an overwhelming majority, despite criticism from the opposition: “With these rules Bernabeu would never have been president,” they argued, and the controversial reform ended up in court. Six years later, in 2018, the Supreme Court validated the changes, with slight tweaks.
One last notable difference between the electoral processes of Madrid and Barcelona: a calendar with all the essential steps is set at the Camp Nou. In Madrid, everything is faster and quieter, especially if nobody dares to risk their heritage. When a presidential term ends in a maximum of two days, the electoral board opens the process. There is then only ten days of margin to present candidacies (already with the essential endorsement). Each candidacy receives the go-ahead (or not) in 24 hours. And if there is only one, as has been the case since Florentino Pérez has presided, he is immediately re-elected. In total, twelve days and business over. If two or more candidatures are approved, the vote takes place in a maximum of 15 days.
Under Pérez’s tenure, he went from 10 to 20 years of service to run for president
THE BOLUDA CASE. In recent months, Valencian businessman Vicente Boluda, who led the club on a provisional basis in 2009 after Calderón’s resignation, has hinted that he is prepared to relieve Pérez. He will finally be able to do it because, a partner since 1998, the twenty-year reform kept him on the sidelines in the 2013 and 2017 calls. Although, as Boluda himself has pointed out, “everything depends on Florentino not changing the statutes again ”. Madrid, no doubt, is not a petanque club. But sometimes the wooden ball disappears.