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Real Madrid president to resign over rigged assembly claims

MADRID, January 15 – Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon will resign on Friday in the wake of allegations that he rigged last month's annual general assembly which approved the club's accounts for 2008 and 2009, Spanish media reported late on Thursday.RAMON_CALDERON

Calderon will be replaced by the defending Spanish champion’s current vice-president, Vicente Bolunda, radio Onda Cero reported.
Members of the board of Real have demanded that the 57-year-old "urgently" step down which could "speed up his resignation and he could announce it tonight or tomorrow," the online edition of El Mundo reported, citing unnamed club sources.
Late on Wednesday Calderon, whose four-year mandate expires in 2010, said he had fired two of his close aides over the affair but he rejected calls that he step down, saying he had done nothing wrong.
"Quitting is for cowards. Leaving would not fix anything, it would leave a void and force the club to call elections," he told a news conference.
Sports daily Marca alleged Tuesday that he stacked a December 7 annual general assembly with fake delegates to get the club’s annual accounts and electoral assembly members approved by a slim margin.
The next day it published a photograph on its front page taken at the assembly with a yellow circle around the heads of ten delegates who it says had voted even though they were not authorized to do so.
The daily published a new picture on Thursday to back its claim that Calderon knew personally some of the unauthorised persons who voted at the assembly, a charge the Real president denied a day earlier at the news conference.
Calderon had said late on Tuesday in a radio interview that he would probably not stand for re-election when his current mandate ends in 2010.
Earlier Thursday sports daily AS, which is close to Real, said he would probably try to save his head until the end of the season before calling elections over the summer.
Calderon has come out of favour with many Real supporters due to his failure to fulfill promises to bring Manchester United’s Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo and AC Milan’s Brazilian playmaker Kaka to the Spanish giants.
The crisis over the general assembly comes as Real has started to close the gap with its arch rivals Barcelona since Ramos was made coach in December and are preparing to face Liverpool in the Champions League knockout stages in February and March.
While the defending Spanish champions are in second place, they still trail the Catalan side in the Spanish league by 12 points.
Real face Osasuna at home on Sunday in the Spanish league. Earlier Thursday defender Javia Garcia assured reporters that the squad had not been affected by the controversy.
"I’ll be honest and will not lie. Nothing has been discussed in the locker room. We keep out of all that," he told reporters on Thursday when asked if the issue had been discussed in the dressing room.
Real Madrid were the world’s largest revenue-generating club for the third successive season in the 2006/07 season, according to an annual ranking compiled by business advisory firm Deloitte.
The reigning Spanish champions overtook Manchester United as the biggest football club by revenue in the 2004/05 season after a policy of signing big names like David Beckham and Luis Figo led to a surge in sales of replica shirts and other items.



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