Seven days ago, Real Madrid’s President Florentino Perez must have been feeling pretty good about himself. The 74-year-old millionaire was in possession of contracts signed by twelve of the biggest clubs in world football. With those contracts, Perez believed he’d finally realized a thirty-year-long dream. He had the building blocks of a new “European Super League,” outside the influence of UEFA and perhaps even FIFA. No longer would he have to split Real Madrid’s share of television and prize money with up to 31 other clubs in the Champions League. The influx of cash generated by the new league would finally bring financial stability to Real Madrid, which has been quietly struggling with its bank balance for years.
By now, of course, we all know what happened to that dream. All six of the English clubs got cold feet and backed out. Because of that, both of the Italian teams in Milan backed out, and even Real Madrid’s city neighbours Atletico withdrew. That left only Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus still involved in the project, with even Juventus’ president admitting that the project was dead in the water. Perez is not yet prepared to admit that. In a defiant interview given 48 hours after his dream fell apart, Perez insisted the Super League was merely “on standby.” Going further, he said none of the clubs that claim to have withdrawn has yet filed the necessary paperwork to do so, and that the UEFA Champions League is “obsolete.” That seems like wishful thinking. UEFA has only just announced new plans for the Champions League that take it past 2024. The Super League doesn’t even have plans that take it into next week.
The accusation directed at Perez from the wider football world – a community that includes every club not involved in the Super League project and even most of the fans of those that are – is that he was motivated by greed when he put the league together. By guaranteeing his team a place in the competition every year come what may and seeking to negotiate new broadcasting deals outside UEFA’s control, he was guaranteeing new investment for Real Madrid. That’s true. Perez himself is happy to admit that better financial returns for the clubs involved was all part of the dream. He also felt that clubs not involved in the competition would also benefit financially, although it’s hard to see how that could be the case. Perez might make a convenient villain for the press at the moment, but bringing more money into Real Madrid is part of his job description.
If Perez wasn’t trying to earn Madrid some extra capital, he wouldn’t be doing his job right. As hard as this might be for fans of the glamorous, high-flying team to accept, Madrid has financial limitations. The club is in enormous amounts of debt, and by the beginning of 2021, the total amount owed had risen above nine hundred million Euros. That’s a colossal amount, and it outstrips the club’s income. In 2020, Real Madrid earned €715.1m. No business could sustain ongoing losses of almost two hundred million Euros per year, and Madrid is no exception. There was a time when the Spanish government would have bankrolled the club, but that particular cord was cut in 2016 after a court case. Madrid is on its own when it comes to solving its debt problem, and as the president, Perez has to find a solution. He thought he’d done so a week ago. Now, despite his protestations to the contrary, he’s back at square one.
It’s difficult to say what the beleaguered Perez will do next. He’s already tried almost everything else in terms of possible money-making schemes. At one point, there was even going to be a “super casino” inside the Bernabeu. That plan fell through at the start of the year when it became clear that the club didn’t have the necessary legal permissions to build one and wasn’t likely to be given them. The plan also missed the point that physical casinos gave way to online slots in terms of gambling preferences several years ago. Ironically, one of the other Super League clubs is well aware of this. Liverpool has its own online slots game. There’s nothing stopping Real Madrid from launching an online slots attraction of its own. The club would probably find that Rose Slots NZ would be happy to feature it. Perhaps these aren’t the kind of ideas that occur in the mind of a man of Perez’s age. Perhaps he doesn’t have the right advisers around him to alert him to the possibilities. Whatever the reason or reasons, he’s leaving money on the table.
The only other thing Perez could consider is selling star players in an attempt to balance the books. It’s unlikely he’ll ever countenance such an idea. It would be career suicide for him, and it would bring about the end of his tenure as club president. Fans of Real Madrid expect to have the world’s greatest players at their club and won’t accept a reduction in quality. Even now, Madrid is spending money it doesn’t have to sign David Alaba and talking about making an approach for PSG’s French star Kylian Mbappe. Mbappe would cost more than one hundred million Euros. Madrid would have to find that money from somewhere. In all likelihood, they would incur even more debt while doing so. Eventually, the entire house will collapse. The new Champions League deal doesn’t give Madrid the kind of cash it needs to avert disaster. Perez is running out of solutions fast.
Because of everything we’ve just said about Madrid’s finances, we expect to see the Super League idea rise again. That might seem preposterous right now because of the global rejection of the concept, but it’s the one lifeline that Florentino Perez and Real Madrid have available to them. Without it, the future looks bleak. The fuss might have started to die down, and people may stop talking about it a few weeks from now, but don’t think you’ve heard the last of it. One day, it might even happen for real.