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May 22, 2013

Madrid socio targets presidency bid

The leader of Real Madrid fan group Plataforma Blanca would like to challenge Florentino Perez in June's club presidential elections, but fears he cannot find the money to do so.

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On Monday, Perez, while announcing the end of Jose Mourinho's term as coach by mutual consent, also set the election date for June 16. Recent weeks have brought a new level of criticism for his handling of the club, and refusal to criticise Mourinho, but no other serious candidates for the position have yet emerged.

Plataforma Blanca leader Eugenio Martinez Bravo, 43, told AS that Madrid fans want a healthy debate over the club's future, and he would like to offer an alternative to Perez.

"I want to present myself at the elections," he said. "I would like to do it, I have the intention to do so, and it would be healthy for madridismo. It would be good if there was an alternative, a debate. Florentino does not have a project - we do."

Changes to the club's election statutes made last September mean any candidate for the presidency must be a socio (member) for at least 20 years, and provide a deposit or bank guarantee of 15% of the club's annual budget - or €76 million this year.

Martinez Bravo, who criticised those changes at the time, meets the first new requirement, having been a socio for 31 years, but not the second as he is not a millionaire.

"We do not want to create false expectations because there is the thing called the deposit and it is very difficult to achieve," he said. "At the press conference there was not even a shred of self-criticism from Florentino Perez. It is very difficult, but I will try. Florentino has set the deposit of €75 million to perpetuate himself as president of Real Madrid."

The 'alternative' plans being suggested would involve returning former players such as Raul and Fernando Hierro - who both left the club through the back door after falling out with Perez - to a place of prominence at the Bernabeu.

"This is the time to sit down and debate what we want for the club," Martinez Bravo said. "My project is pure madridismo. It is about bringing back the permanent fixtures of Real Madrid, Hierro, Raul, Santillana, Pirri... I would love to call Raul as president and ask him if he wanted to return. In Germany (at Schalke) they had a big ceremony to thank him, and here there is still nothing."

Perez is currently in his second spell as Madrid president. After he was first elected in 2000, the club won two La Liga titles and the 2002 Champions League, but coach Vicente del Bosque was sacked amid a 'galactico' policy that brought increased revenues but few trophies.

The construction magnate stepped down in 2006 but returned in 2009, hiring Mourinho a year later and sticking with him through thick and thin in an attempt to win a tenth European Cup, known as "La Decima". On Monday, Perez said "it would be wrong to call the last three seasons a failure" and that "Madrid is back where it should be", but not everyone in the Spanish capital appears to agree.

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