Real Madrid, the most successful club in the history of Europe, own a record 14 continental titles, and there will be plenty of silverware up for grabs in 2022/23 to add to their trophy case.
Yet Real Madrid, who have won seven European crowns since the turn of the millennium, remain a unicorn against the backdrop of modern club football. With teams being purchased around the world for record sums of money, Real Madrid have not been for sale.
That’s because no one individual truly owns Real Madrid. Instead, the club is owned by its fans. The club’s supporters, known as “Madridistas,” are able to purchase an ownership stake in the club, a rare occurrence in club soccer’s modern financial boom.
While successful Spanish businessman Florentino Perez is the president who controls the day-to-day operations of the club, Perez is subject to the oversight of the Real Madrid supporters.
The Sporting News brings you all the information on how Real Madrid’s ownership works and how the club has maintained this rare status despite its rise to global might.
Who owns Real Madrid?
Real Madrid are one of the last major fan-owned clubs in world football.
The Spanish giants are not owned by any corporation, individual, or consortium. Instead, fans can purchase membership in the club. Members are known as “socios” and pay a small per-year fee of €150 for membership. Once an individual has been a member for 50 years, the membership fee is waived.
As of 2010, the club had 60,000 socios, and that number has increased to at least 90,000 according to some reports, with some believing the number to be over 100,000.
Other big clubs run by supporters include Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Bayern Munich (mostly), Athletic Bilbao, Panathinaikos, and most large South American clubs including Corinthians, Santos, Palmeiras, Gremio, Flamengo, Sao Paulo, Atletico Mineiro, Fluminese, River Plate, Atletico Penarol, and all Argentine clubs.
What are socios and how can you become one?
Club owners, otherwise known as “socios” — which roughly translates to “partner” — make up the fan-led group of club owners at Real Madrid.
The socios elect the club president and the board of directors. Florentino Perez, the current president of Real Madrid, has held the post since his second election in 2009, having initially served from 2000-06.
Real Madrid have been run by socios since the club’s inception, even surviving the socio purge of 1992. Spanish law at that time forced all clubs to register as PLC’s, but certain clubs such as Real Madrid and Barcelona took advantage of a loophole by proving they were profitable for five years running.
Socios each have voting powers in club elections, and have first access to purchasing tickets. The voting process sees all members elect a 2,000-person Member Assembly which has the power to approve the club’s budget, discipline the president, and authorize loans, among other duties. The Member Assembly elects serve four-year terms.
To become a “socio” is extremely difficult. In addition to filling out the form on Real Madrid’s website, a prospective member must be given approval from two existing members. There is a waiting list which many prospective members report to be quite long, since the only way to be given a spot is if someone gives it up or otherwise loses membership, or if more spots are added.
A member’s number and membership status is non-transferrable, so the only way to renounce socio status is to step down or pass away. It is therefore not possible to sell or pass down your membership.
Who is Florentino Perez?
Currently 75 years old, Florentino Perez is a Madrid-born Spanish businessman, politician, and current club president of Real Madrid, at the helm of the club’s operations since 2009, plus an earlier stint in charge from 2000-‘06.
Before joining Real Madrid, Perez had a background in civil engineering and ran Spain’s largest construction company Grupo ACS. He also held many government positions, including on the Madrid city council, Spain’s Ministry of Public Works and Transport, and in the Democratic Reformist Party in Spain.
The socios hold club elections every four years, and Perez was first elected in 2000, defeating incumbent Lorenzo Sanz. The Spaniard instituted his “Galacticos” plan to bring one big-name player to the club every year. This resulted in the arrivals of players such as Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Ronaldo, Michael Owen, and Luis Figo to the club.
Perez resigned in 2006 suggesting the club must seek a new direction, but decided to run again for the role in 2009, and was elected unopposed. He has been in charge since, winning reelection in 2013, 2017, and 2021.
Real Madrid club value, net worth, and finances
Real Madrid are one of the richest and most well-known football clubs in the world.
According to Forbes, as of April 2021, Real Madrid had a total valuation of $4.75 billion, with yearly revenues of $792 million and an operating income of $92 million.
The club’s total valuation has skyrocketed over the last decade, as it was listed at $1.9 billion in 2012. According to Forbes in 2018, the club’s average wage of $10.6 million per year was second in the world, only behind rivals Barcelona.