Saturday, 3 February 2007

Woodgate gets England recall

Jonathan Woodgate was among Steve McClaren's list of players for the England friendly against Spain at Old Trafford next Wednesday. His last call-up was in a friendly against Sweden back in March 2004.

Woodgate said: "I never stopped believing I would win a recall. I kept the belief that I would get picked again if I got a run of games.I know there was talk of me getting selected before Christmas but I wasn't ready for it then. I am now. I am playing two and three games a week without any problems and my fitness is getting better all the time. I do not feel I am playing better then I have done in the past when I was at Leeds, Newcastle and Real Madrid, but it is all about getting a run of games together, and it has been great to do that with my home-town club. I am looking forward to it."

Woody's had a tough time of it over the past few years, but his loan spell at Middlesbrough this season seems to have given him his confidence as well as his fitness back and he's been in impressive form. For a player on whom so much money was spent, it would be a fitting end of the nightmare for both him and Real Madrid if he were to make a triumphal return next season. The question now is whether he will want to make a success of it (he's won the players and some of the fans over with his quick grasp of Spanish) and whether he will feature in Capello's plans (assuming the Italian's still in charge then, of course).

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Thursday, 1 February 2007

First round to Calderón

Those who had predicted that Ramón Calderón would shortly be forced to resign his presidency of Real Madrid had their hopes quashed by a judge today. But the situation is as complex as some of the legalese employed by all the parties involved.

It was a day of judgements: earlier in the day, the Audiencia Nacional partially ruled in favour of presidential hopeful Juan Miguel Villar Mir in that the postal vote should be counted in order to safeguard the democratic rights of Real Madrid members. However, this judgement was linked to a second trial on the validity of the Real Madrid electoral process and therefore the postponement of the count itself was maintained until the result of that trial was known. This judgement cannot be appealed and therefore this matter is now at an end.

The second trial made its decision known within minutes of the first and gave Ramón Calderón a significant boost in his quest to remain as Real Madrid president. The judge ruled that rule 15 of the Real Madrid statutes (relating to the postal vote) was invalid, and by extension, the votes themselves (all 10,511 of them) were invalid and should not count towards the election of a president.

Calderón had argued that rule 15 implied a "lack of guarantee of the democratic principles required for a postal vote, in that it did not fulfil the requirement that the vote be personal, direct, secret and that it cannot be delegated on another person" (see what I mean by legalese?).

The judgement can be appealed, and indeed two of the former candidates (Villar Mir himself, and Arturo Baldasano) have already announced they will appeal the decision. However, this decision to continue dragging the club through the courts is likely to take several months, giving Calderón time to potentially call new elections (on his own terms).

It's a shame that the Real Madrid membership did not see fit to modify the regulation at the recent AGM, seeing as it's clearly unfit for a so-called democratic institution.

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