Thursday, 30 October 2008

Calderón accused of living off the club

How much more can Ramón Calderón take before he decides that enough is enough and he packs his bags? It's not been an easy few days for the president of Real Madrid, continuously dogged by issues that have nothing to do with the team's sporting results.

Last week he had to contend with the announcement by Juan Villalonga that he would seek the presidency of the club at the next election, scheduled to take place by 2010. You may remember this same Villalonga was looking to poach Calderón's right-hand man José Ángel Sánchez back in July to head his proposed take-over at Valencia.

After Villalonga's attempt fell through just ten days later, nobody could predict that the man who used to run Spain's Telefónica before having to leave over accusations of insider trading would next try to take over an even bigger football club. Over at La Liga Loca there's an excellent review of the background to this story.

There followed then rumours that Florentino Pérez, the architect of the galácticos was seriously considering returning to the post he voluntarily resigned from in February 2006.

None of this should perhaps worry Calderón too much. After all, a lot can happen in two years, and the club has had sporting success with two consecutive league championships. However, it is the president's personal financial affairs that are now taking centre stage.

On Wednesday, business newspaper Negocio published an article detailing Calderón's income and tax statements since 2004. Without specifying how these details were obtained, the surprising news is that Calderón has declared no income and paid no tax between 2004 and 2007, and yet somehow managed to buy a flat in the centre of Madrid valued at some 800,000 euros.

This was followed that same next evening in José Antonio Abellán's personal crusade against the Real Madrid president in his radio programme El Tirachinas. Abellán claims that Calderón is charging personal expenses using two club credit cards for items as varied as cups of coffee, fuel for his car, rounds of golf and visits to health spas. He even published copies of these card statements on the radio station's website, blanking out some of the amounts. Abellán extended his accusations to the rest of the club's board members, saying Calderón was merely the figurehead.

In my opinion, the "documents" don't look very official and could have been knocked up very quickly. Also, some of the expenses are in locations that Calderón is known to have visited with the team during the preseason in Irdning and the Algarve. However, the allegations are extremely serious and have been echoed widely in the Spanish press.

Whether they can be justified as legitimate business expenses will presumably be addressed by Calderón himself at a press conference tonight at 19:00 local time (18:00 GMT).

Update: At his press conference, Calderón blasted his accusers, saying they had obtained information illegally and supplemented it with lies.

"Sadly I have to stand here before you to make a formal declaration to answer these very serious accusations, which this morning I have put in the hands of they police so they can initiate the relevant investigation."
"Most of the items mentioned were of my daughter Leticia and the rest are false. None of those items has been paid by Real Madrid. The situation is so serious and so brutally damaging to my prestige and the honour of Real Madrid that I could not remain silent."

He then went on to present documentary evidence from the banks to the effect that those credit cards had not been used by him for any personal motive and that most of the transactions that were published by the various media were from a debit account in the name of his daughter. He also showed copies of his tax statements for the past 4 years, in reply to the article from Negocio about his apparent lack of income.


Anonymous said...

Frankly speaking I feel that Calderon has done a better job than his predecessor and thus I like him more. And Villalonga hasn't been a socio for 10 years and hence cannot contest or something like that right?

Gonzalo said...

I think Villalonga has been socio for long enough. You may be confusing him with former Spanish prime minister Aznar, who was recently rumoured to have considered standing for the Real Madrid presidency, but couldn't due to that restriction. said...

I know you all must have been very jealous down there in madrid as we self imploded upo here in Barcelona. But really, did you have to follow the lead and get in to your own mess.
By the way - you have the dubious honour of being our favourite blog of the week!,%20Etxeberria%20and%20a%20spot%20of%20bother%20at%20the%20Bernabeu:%20The%20editor's%20blog&id=117

Anonymous said...

This is a man who lurches from one scandal to the next, in a constant state of electioneering. After initially promising that his presidency would be less about the man at the top and more about ensuring trasparency at every level, he ends up in front of the cameras week in week out, either by design or by mistake. He's still found himself unable to defend Real Madrid from ridiculous attacks by Ferguson and Galliani.

I don't think he's good news for Real Madrid, and I find it incredible that a club with such a rich history cannot find a decent person, with the team's best interests at heart to run it.

The fact that you have to be a millionaire, and a club socio of over 30 years to qualify for the position, excludes nearly all of the top candidates from the seat pf power.

Anonymous said...

Oh yeah I must be confusing myself. Damn it!

decima said...

What did Calderon meant by saying "Ganaremos 107 millones de euros"?

Did we record some profit or something like that? Can anybody clarify.

Anonymous said...

Don't they have libel or privacy laws in Spain?

Gonzalo said...

decima - Calderón was anticipating the figures to be presented at the assembly on December 7th - he said that Real would record 107 million euros in profit in the last financial year, what he called a record. However, some have said this includes the money for the transfer of Robinho, which happened after the end of the previous season, and therefore should not figure in the numbers for that financial year.

Anonymous, there are indeed libel and privacy laws in Spain. Although I'm not a lawyer (unlike Calderón), my understanding is that he has informed the police of the allegations, so they can investigate, and charge anyone concerned if the law has been broken. I expect this will take some considerable time.