The impact Florentino Perez has made on Real Madrid since first becoming President in 2000 has been truly remarkable. Despite the effects of the pandemic, the concerning decline of La Liga, and the rise of the Premier League, the club is financially in a great moment of strength and able to compete for the best players in the game. Interestingly, in spite of his incredible success, there are still sectors of the press and even some Real Madrid fans who do not fully value the impact he has had on enhancing the image of the club.
The anti-Florentino crowd will surely pinpoint that Real Madrid were successful and well known long before Florentino. While that is correct, a fundamental reason for the club’s global recognition has a lot to do with Florentino Perez. He transformed Real Madrid and has turned them into a dominant force both on and off the field. Something that can be seen whenever the club does its preseason tour as Real Madrid fans turn out in large amounts everywhere they go.
It was a dubious process, but Florentino’s innovativeness has had an immense impact as other clubs are now implementing the same concepts. Originally, many believed he was naive when he took charge in 2000 as he changed the way the club did things and was thought to be only doing this for his own interests, but it is now clear he knew exactly what he was doing. He just simply saw the enormous potential Real Madrid could have that was not being fulfilled and had the courage to do what he felt would allow the club to achieve it.
With that in mind, how did Florentino achieve this, and what were his methods for turning an already established club into a global force?
The ‘Galaticos’ Era
As Florentino Perez has expressed on many occasions, the club was in a difficult situation when he took charge. Despite winning the Champions League in 1998 and 2000, Real Madrid were not bringing in the revenue they should have been generating nor had the global recognition they currently have. Not to mention the stadium was not exactly in the best condition and needed to be desperately renovated. The situation was so serious that important players needed to be sold for the squad to be paid.
When Florentino became President, he made growing the club’s global image his initial priority, which is when the ‘Galaticos’ came into effect. Despite showing what he was capable of by bringing in Barcelona icon Luis Figo and other important players, the moment that took the club’s global image to a completely different level was the signing of David Beckham.
That is when Florentino saw the opportunity to expand the club’s image across the entire planet. Real Madrid started doing their preseasons across Asia as interest had grown significantly on the continent, players appeared in more ads, and the club made and were involved in several important films; all with the idea of highlighting Real Madrid.
While many believe Real Madrid increased their fanbase because of the ‘Galaticos’, the actual reason is that Florentino Perez used this to push the image of the club and get fans to support Real Madrid; not just their players.
This is why Real Madrid continues to have and increase its large fanbase despite high-profile players leaving because players come and go, but the club will also remain. This is the Florentino concept used and is also why the club has such a great reputation. Unlike others who push the image of the player / s more than the team and then see a decline in fan support when they leave because many of them were more interested in the player / s than the club.
His innovation did have consequences
Despite winning a couple of league titles and the Champions League, Florentino’s innovativeness off the field came at a cost as the excessive egos created constant issues within the squad and would see the club go three seasons without winning any titles. Tension constantly grew against him, which would lead to Florentino Perez’s resignation in 2006.
While things did not venture well on the field, he made a significant impact off it as Real Madrid were now generating significantly more revenue than before, they were globally recognized, and the stadium was in much better conditions than before he became President.
Staying clear of divisive politics
As an institution, Real Madrid has done everything possible to avoid getting involved in any national or foreign political issues. When the Catalan nationalist movement occurred, the club was pressured by certain sectors to take a stand against this and even play with the Spanish flag on their jersey. Despite the pressure, Real Madrid refused to get involved in any way.
Florentino Perez even banned the long-supporting Real Madrid ultras because they would constantly involve their harmful, extremist political ideology into the games. This does not mean that there will be no political figures attending games or that the club will not show solidarity with those affected by injustice in the world. However, when it comes to political issues that are divisive, Real Madrid do not get involved.
In fact, Real Madrid do not even want to put the Spanish flag on their jersey even for geographical reasons because, while they are a Spanish club, they want to be known as a universal club that anybody from anywhere can support.
The same way Florentino Perez mentioned that the club needed to evolve, he has also made sure to adapt and evolve himself. When he returned to the presidency in 2009, he did just that by bringing in his new version of ‘Galaticos’, while combining it with other important signings that were not as intriguing, but important for the balance of the squad. He started going after not only the best players, but also the best managers.
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Florentino implemented buyout-clauses of a billion euros because he saw the potential financial impact Manchester City and PSG could have long before anybody. Then when the transfer market became inflated, the club changed its transfer policy and went after up-and-coming players who could sign at a low price and sell at a high fee if they did not develop. Now Real Madrid are not just targeting high-profile players with expiring contracts, but also those with controlled egos who will not cause issues within the team as they value the collective unit more.