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Saints bite back after Rodgers dig

The Toe Poke
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By ESPN Staff

Real in turmoil after call for elections

MADRID, April 27 (Reuters) - Real Madrid face further uncertainty after the board ousted Fernando Martin two months into his presidency and called for elections.

With the 83-year-old Luis Gomez-Montejano installed as president until a new one is elected by the club's 85,000 members, Real ability to plan for next season is severely undermined.

Real have not named a new coach for next season while the future of players such as Raul, David Beckham and Roberto Carlos needs to be addressed.

Zinedine Zidane's decision to retire after the World Cup leaves a large hole in midfield which will need filling.

'This is an institutional crisis that went beyond the board,' Arturo Baldasano, a presidential candidate in the 2004 elections, told the Europa Press news agency.

'When Florentino Perez resigned he understood his sports project had failed but his board could have avoided all the uncertainty we now have (by calling for elections earlier).'

When Perez made his surprise decision to step down as president at the end of February, Martin was given the board's full support to come in and tackle the problems facing the club.

But despite having a mandate to continue in the post until 2008 he was unable to resist pressure for elections.

Martin failed to win friends in the media or on the board. He publicly criticised fellow directors and undermined coach Juan Ramon Lopez Caro with his claims he had already decided on a new coach, though he was not prepared to name him.

His dealings with the players also came under scrutiny after he announced at his first press conference that he would set up an independent commission to evaluate the players' conduct and commitment on and off the pitch.

Although the team have not lost a game under Martin they have failed to provide the entertaining football expected by the fans.

Real will end the season without a trophy for their third year running, their worst run in over 50 years. They are fighting for second place in the Primera Liga with Valencia.

They are 10 points adrift of leaders Barcelona, who have a game in hand.

The election process will start at the end of the season on May 15, when candidates have 10 days to register after which a date for the ballot itself will be confirmed. It is expected to take place in early July.

Martin resigned to put himself forward as a candidate and is expected to be joined in the race by double world rally champion Carlos Sainz, former president Lorenzo Sanz, Baldasano and dissident director Ramon Calderon.