Florentino Perez is widely expected to be re-elected Real Madrid president on Sunday despite criticism of his four-year reign and last season’s failure to win a trophy.
The construction magnate is being challenged by his predecessor Lorenzo Sanz and businessman Arturo Baldasano. But neither is likely to be able to stop 57-year-old Perez from being elected for a second term.
Sanz, 59, still carries some heavy baggage from his time as president when he was accused of leading Real to the brink of financial disaster and running the club like a personal fiefdom.
Baldasano, on the other hand, is making his first foray into football politics and has admitted he has been taken by surprise by the bruising campaign run by his more experienced rivals.
But the fact the two men have dared to challenge Perez is an indication that the shine has been taken off his presidency by events of the last 12 months.
Both Sanz and Baldasano said the club’s miserable season was a product of Perez’s policy of paying more attention to marketing than the footballing needs of the team.
“Real have lost the hearts of much of Spain,” said Baldasano. “Today the club is despised because of Perez’s arrogance and pomposity.”
But despite the criticisms of his presidency, Perez is still likely to gain overwhelming support from the 65,000 club members who are entitled to vote in Sunday’s election.
Perez has been given credit for solving the club’s economic problems and of making Real the most glamorous and marketable club side in world football.
“Four years ago the club was in danger of becoming the property of its creditors,” Perez said. “Today we have 171 million euros in the bank.
“The club is now run in a professional, transparent and modern way. We promised the best players in the world would come to Real and they have…The only limit in the future are the dreams of the club members.”