Perez wins Real presidential bid

Real Madrid tonight confirmed that Florentino Perez has returned as club president.

Perez, who held the post for six highly eventful years from 2000 to 2006, will be sworn in tomorrow.

The 62-year-old businessman will take over from Vicente Boluda, who has been in the post since Ramon Calderon stepped down in January in the wake of allegations of voting irregularities at the club's last general assembly in December.

Calderon's resignation led to elections being called 12 months earlier than scheduled, and they had initially been due to be held on 14 June, although that was under the proviso that more than one candidate would have submitted a bid before the deadline of midnight on 31 May.

However, that has not been the case with the three other candidates who had originally announced they would be mounting bids, Eugenio Martinez Bravo, Juan Onieva and Eduardo Garcia, all pulling out of the running in the last fortnight, with the 57.4million euro bank guarantee seeming to be the big stumbling block.

Garcia was the latest to withdraw on Friday, and that meant that unless another valid candidate presented himself, then Perez would be elected unopposed on 1 June.

"In the case of there existing only one valid bid, its members will immediately be proclaimed as the new members of the board of directors," the club announced at the start of the election process.

Perez's previous spell in charge of the Spanish giants was characterised by the famous 'galacticos' policy which saw Madrid bring in the likes of Luis Figo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham and Ronaldo for massive fees.

Madrid enjoyed on- and off-field success under Perez, winning seven trophies including two league titles and the Champions League, and also replacing Manchester United as the richest club in the world just prior to the president's departure.

Perez also showed little inclination to drag his feet if he felt a coaching change needed to be made, employing six different managers during his tenure before finally quitting himself in February 2006 after seeing Madrid go three years without winning a major trophy.

Perez, who at the time hoped his departure would help spark a revival in the club's on-pitch fortunes, admitted recently that he had made a mistake in stepping down.

Having now officially seen off all challengers for the Madrid presidency, Perez will set about putting into practice his plan to take the Spanish giants back to the top of the football tree.

"We are working towards and we will work to create a spectacular project, and that is to make Real Madrid the best club in the world once more," said Perez during a press conference a fortnight ago.

"A club like Real Madrid needs to have several of the best players in the world and even though I can't discuss names today, we have a spectacular project on the sporting side."

And in an interview with Marca on Friday, he insisted he was confident of being able to tempt the majority of his transfer targets to the Bernabeu if he was elected.

In recent years the likes of David Villa, Santi Cazorla and other players have all rebuffed Madrid's advances, but Perez feels it will be different this summer.

"I'm sure that now the majority of the players are going to want to come to Madrid, to a new project," Perez said.

"We are going to have a great team and a great coach."

Although Perez has kept his cards close to his chest regarding new players and who will coach the team next season, there has been almost non-stop speculation in the Spanish media over the past few months regarding who will be brought in if the election favourite returned to power.

On the playing side, two of Madrid's long-term targets Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo are again reportedly near the top of Perez's wanted list, along with Frenchman Franck Ribery.

Spanish players are also believed to be on Perez's agenda, even though during his previous spell in the hotseat only one of his 17 signings was a home-grown player - Sergio Ramos, who joined from Sevilla.

If the reports turn out to be true though, then the likes of Valencia quartet Villa, David Silva, Raul Albiol and Juan Mata, as well as Almeria striker Alvaro Negredo and Liverpool's Xabi Alonso could be among the Spanish signings gracing the Bernabeu next season.

On the coaching front, Jose Mourinho, Arsene Wenger and Carlo Ancelotti have all been linked to the post, but it seems that Villarreal's Manuel Pellegrini is now favourite to take over when Juande Ramos' six-month contract runs out this summer.

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