An Open Letter to Real Madrid Fans
Before I begin, let me just own up to the fact that I never liked your team.
While I was growing up, Real were the first of the financial juggernauts, throwing around money, bankrolled by the King of Spain, wielding an axe to catch a fly.
I disliked Real, their president and their "galactico" policy so much that I started supported Atletico Madrid as my second team.
But that’s not to say that I don’t respect the club, and its history. Nine European Cups, 31 league titles and 17 Copa del Reys. The all-white of Real has inspired so many, and been worn by some of the greatest heroes of all time, like Puskas and Di Stefano.
And now, though I’m not one of you, I’m asking for your help.
Football is not what it used to be. Change happens in any field, especially a sport that moves so quickly. Players are signed for more, wages are higher, gates are larger, and interest is massive. Only a fool would try and stand in the way of change, if that change is for the benefit of the game.
Once, it was quite acceptable to score a goal from an offside position in football. That was changed, and for the better, making the game fairer. It used to be fine for a goalkeeper to pick up pass backs, but that was changed, and now games flow faster.
But some changes do more harm than good. There was an idea to introduce a 39th game in the English Premier League, played on foreign soil. This was ridiculous, and so it was abandoned.
And now your president, Real fans—that same man who suggested the "galacticos" and once turned me and many more away from your team—is back again. Florentino Perez is spending more on players than anyone else in the world. He’s destabilising the market, damaging the sport, and sinking Real Madrid heavily in to debt during a global financial crisis.
From your perspective, there’s no reason at all to suggest that these new signings will bring any success to Real, but they will definitely damage your club’s bank accounts and credit rating. Real Madrid themselves have proven time and time again that buying the world’s most expensive players can often lead to a more trouble than it solves.
And now, to add insult to injury to football, Sr Perez is demanding to UEFA president Michel Platini that he form a breakaway European Super League, containing 20 of the continent’s greatest clubs.
His reasoning, he says, is that the modern Champions League simply doesn’t favour the biggest clubs. Of course, the fact that a competition isn’t supposed to favour anyone seems to have passed him by.
His plans would lead eventually to the biggest clubs abandoning their domestic leagues, leaving a huge chunk of football clubs floundering in financial meltdown, picking up the pieces and competing for prizes no one cares about.
The trophy you still see as your competition, the cup format European prize, would end up being replaced and discarded by Perez’s Super League format, meaning the end of the European Cup you crave every year.
Fans of the "big twenty" would be asked to pay astronomical fees to attend matches across Europe, with all the travel expenses and hotel bookings on top. Watching football would no longer be a right for the fan. It would be a luxury costing as much as a holiday, and in the current climate, few will be able to fly out to watch their team.
Records like nine European Cups, 31 league titles and 17 Copa del Reys would cease to hold any meaning, and all of Real’s glory days would be disregarded, having come in abandoned competitions and forgotten domestic systems.
The great rivalries between clubs like Liverpool and Everton, Arsenal and Tottenham, Barcelona and Espanyol, and Real and Atletico would no longer be played out.
All the integrity of football, and all the reasons we watch it and care, will dissolve under the plans of your president.
In the end, I suppose it was never Real Madrid that I disliked growing up. It was the moneymen that took a mighty, integral club and cynically did their best to exploit its name and turn it in to a cash-cow brand.
The men like Perez who believe that football exists to be a marketing vessel for themselves and their own gain and amusement.
Men who don’t believe in football, and the power it can hold over entire countries and peoples, other than to exploit that power and make more money. Men who look at Kaka and Ronaldo and see shirt sales instead of heroes.
Perhaps I’m an idealist. Perhaps I’m a dying breed in football. Maybe I’m fighting for something that’s already dead. But even if I am, I’d rather stand against ideas like the European Super League, and I appeal to you all to do likewise.
For the sake of football, and for the sake of Real Madrid.
Perez is the enemy. His plans will kill your country’s football competitions, as well as your club, and you don’t have to stand for that.
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