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Sep 5, 2012

Atletico Madrid turned down Falcao offers

Atletico Madrid chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin revealed Wednesday that he rebuffed interest from four clubs -- including Chelsea and Manchester City -- in Falcao this summer, and conceded the financial inequality in La Liga means it is inevitable that he will be sold sooner rather than later.

Gil Marin called on the Spanish footballing authorities to make sweeping structural changes to prevent the duopoly of Barcelona and Real Madrid from becoming more dominant and preventing La Liga's smaller clubs from holding on to their top talent.

Falcao, 26, is Europe's hottest striker after his hat trick on Friday inspired his club to a 4-1 demolition of Chelsea which secured it the European Super Cup.

And Gil Marin believes Atletico, about $441 million in debt, made a risky decision not to accept any offers for the Colombia striker.

"You only have to look at what happened this summer," he said. "Apart from Athletic and ourselves, everyone has had to sell big names because they needed to survive in the current environment of bankruptcy. A French club [PSG], a Russian [Anzhi] and two English [Chelsea and Man City] came for Falcao and he stayed because we took a risk we would be able to make our payments."

Gil Marin's revelation came to light Wednesday as Radamel Falcao's father claimed the Atletico star dreamed of playing for fierce rival Real as a boy.

Quoted in Marca, Radamel Garcia told Colombian radio programme 'En Gran debate de Todelar': "His dream is to play for Real Madrid. Since he was a boy, he's always wanted to play there. Other teams in Europe like Chelsea and Manchester City were interested in him."

On Thursday, Falcao seemingly rebutted his father's statement, sending out this tweet: "So it is clear: My dream is to keep winning titles with Athletic and to qualify Colombia for the World Cup."

The free-scoring Colombian made an instant impression at the Vicente Calderon since joining from Porto last season, scoring 39 goals in all competitions as the Rojiblancos lifted the Europa League trophy in Bucharest.

"If he can't play for Real Madrid, he'll play for a team in England," Garcia said. "Of course he wants to go to the 2014 World Cup, but most of all, he wants to go to Real Madrid."

Gil Marin, the son of controversial former Atletico president Jesus Gil y Gil, predicts that clubs such as Atletico without mega-rich owners inevitably would be unable to hold onto players of Falcao's quality.

"With the arrival of the people from Qatar, Abu Dhabi or Russia, the ten or 15 top players can ask for whatever they want," he said. "They will play in China, at Paris St Germain or at Manchester City. The players, in the end always think that their careers are short. In three years there will be no great players in La Liga, except those at Madrid and Barcelona."

The Madrid and Barcelona domination of La Liga stems from the unfair distribution of TV revenues in Spain which sees the smaller clubs receive significantly less, unlike an equal share deal between clubs seen in leagues such as the Premier League.

"The structure must be changed so that 18 clubs do not have to live on the leftovers," Gil Martin said. "I am sure that Madrid and Barcelona will again finish 30 points ahead of the third placed team. A competition where one team gets 100 points from 114 is ill."

Gil Marin, whose family controls Atletico along with club president Enrique Cerezo, despite years of fans protests and a legal judgement against them, said that a new form of club ownership was required to fix the deep problems within Spanish football.

"Spanish football has lived through three stages," he said. "The first was marked by a lack of regulation. With the arrival of 'sporting limited companies' (in 1990) individuals like my father, Manuel Ruiz de Lopera (at Betis) and others came to prominence. Now we need to find a scenario which brings order and solvency. Atletico proposes we take the best of other models, from America, England and most of all Germany, and get away from what we have, where only Madrid and Barcelona are important and the others have just become anecdotes."

Information from Press Association and reporter Dermot Corrigan was used in this report.

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