Real Madrid now richest club in the world, says Perez
Real Madrid president Florentino Perez says
the Spanish club has overtaken Manchester United as the biggest earner
in world soccer.
"We have now ensured that our income is greater than any other team, it
is the highest in the world," Perez said in an interview published in
Spanish sports daily Marca on Friday.
"Only Manchester United are close to us, but this year we have overtaken
them. We have solved our economic problems forever."
In a report published by consultants Deloitte in February, Manchester
United topped the rich list for the eighth year in a row with an income
of 171.5 million pounds ($301.7 million) for the 2003-2004 season.
Real were in second place with 156.3 million after halving the gap with
United since the previous year. Italy's AC Milan were third and Chelsea
But Perez said that the situation had now changed and that Real's income
had increased by 250 percent since he took charge as president five
years ago and that the club no longer had any debts.
He spent over 200 million euros ($241.8 million) in bringing a string of
world class players including Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, David
Beckham and Michael Owen to the Bernabeu.
He funded the spending spree and cleared the club's debts when he sold
its city centre training ground to the Madrid local authority for 480
Perez said that in contrast to Manchester United and Chelsea, Real
enjoyed the advantage of not being controlled by a single owner but by
the club's members.
"Every night I sleep soundly, safe in the knowledge that Real Madrid
will not end up in the hands of any one particular person. Just ask
Manchester and Chelsea about that.
"Their model (of ownership) has to be respected but it isn't suitable
for Real Madrid."
United are controlled by American sports tycoon Malcolm Glazer and
Chelsea by Russian oil billionaire Roman Abramovich.
With regard to Real's sporting fortunes, Perez said that the club's
appeal had not been undermined by the fact that they have failed to win
a major trophy in the past two seasons, but he did issue a warning to
his players about their level of commitment.
"We have had a problem in that we have believed that we could win our
games without even getting off the team bus," he said.
"No one should forget that you win by battling it out and working hard.
The idea that we can win merely by virtue of being Real Madrid doesn't
"Last season we finished second and that was a failure for this club."
Real have added depth and defensive power to a side overburdened with
attack-minded players by signing of Uruguayan duo Pablo Garcia and
Carlos Diogo in the close season and Perez admitted that it was becoming
increasingly difficult to sign world names.
"We always try to sign the best in the world but when you have signed
Figo, Zidane and Beckham there aren't any more around. These sort of
players only emerge once every few decades."