Ramón Calderón is a lawyer and ex-President of Spanish football club Real Madrid. Elected to the post in July 2006, he signed Ruud van Nistelrooy from Manchester United, Mahamadou Diarra from Olympique Lyon and Arjen Robben from Chelsea during his time at the club, and was responsible for running a multi-million Euro global business and one of the most valuable sporting brands in the world.
He joins Mishcon in conversation with Executive Partner James Libson, discussing the pressures associated with one of the highest profile roles in football, media scrutiny, the emerging world of technology in sport and what he thinks the future holds for the beautiful game in Europe and beyond.
In conversation with Ramón Calderón
Ex President of Real Madrid C.F.
I am a lawyer. I studied in Navarra in the University of Pamplona, one of the most prestigious. I opened my own law office in the seventies and I have been working all my life there and also I became linked to Real Madrid. I could apply many of the things I have learned from my profession in running the club – with the contracts, with the figures, with a way to organise properly the club. We found in 2000 the club in a very, very bad situation. We managed to change the figures and in that job I think being a lawyer was very important, very interesting. When we found the club it was nearly bankrupt so our strategy was to link our already prestigious and very known brand with the best players in the world. With it actually in the plot we had in the centre of Madrid, with that money we paid the debt and we started to build a model, just signing the best players we could at the time, was Figo, the Zidane through to Rinaldo, the Brazilian, and finally, Beckham. What happened when Beckham came to Real Madrid the year after he was the third ranked in the press coverage and media following and also other players the same and that became very attractive for sponsors. Few other activities in life arouse more passion of loyalty, emotions and enthusiasm about football, people are really committed about what’s happening to their teams but also we do another part that I always like to highlight which is the job we do with the kids, the academies, we open around the world we have more than forty I think. We are doing that, not looking for talent, we are for helping those children. My memories about the time I worked at Real, of course, the title, the trophies, the cups were important but much more rewarding, my relationship with the kids and knowing that we could give them some happiness that they unfortunately can’t get due to the poverty that they are living in some cases.