Big clubs need to be defended – Real Madrid vice-president

Pedro Lopez Jimenez insists that football’s leading sides need to be able to reap the rewards of their ability to attract new audiences to the game

Big clubs such as Real Madrid need to be protected more as football looks to new ways of maintaining a level playing field, according to one of the Spanish giants’ vice-presidents.

Pedro Lopez Jimenez, an executive board member of the European Club Association (ECA) and the third vice-president of Madrid says he is in favour of spreading some of the substantial wealth in football, but that the traditional powerhouses must be defended.

Uefa’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations have been introduced in a bid to bring clubs under more financial control, but the initiative has attracted some criticism for continuing the status quo amongst the game’s elite.

Yet Jimenez claims it is only right that the bigger outfits reap the benefits of attracting new audiences to the sport.

“There is a need to defend big clubs, because we are not only in the biggest sport in the world, we are in the biggest show business in the world,” Jimenez told the Leaders Sport Business Summit in London.

“I agree with the needs for solidarity, but Uefa and Fifa, with their regulatory power, have an egalitarian pulse because they are using our players for all kinds of tournaments and things.”

He also defended the spending habits of big clubs, with Real Madrid having themselves revealed a €600 million debt recently.

“We talk about the spending, and probably we are talking in many cases about investing. So really clubs are maybe spending more than they earn, but they are investing in players who are young. And when they are young and do not reach their potential, there are economic consequences.

“We understand that we have to do something for solidarity, but at the end of the day what attracts hundreds of millions of people to the game is the top clubs.”

The Real Madrid executive went on to attack Uefa for its treatment of Xabi Alonso after the Champions League final victory against city rivals Atletico Madrid in May.

The midfielder was suspended for the showpiece game and later faced further censure after running onto the field at the final whistle to celebrate with his team-mates.

“[FFP] should not be another way for Uefa to put pressure on clubs. In the past, they have used their power in a nasty way.

“For example, Xabi Alonso ran to celebrate with his friends and they sanctioned him, which is fine. But if you read the document regarding the sanction, it made him look like a friend of Jack the Ripper,” added Jimenez.

“But FFP is a process which was done together between the ECA and Uefa, and I am worried that people think Uefa is forcing clubs to behave. No. We decided that system together, so we are as responsible as Uefa for FFP.”

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