Transfer rumours

With a long, drawn out legal battle threatening over the validity or not of postal votes, the election committee of Real Madrid decided to take the only route available to them and declared Ramón Calderón as the new president. Although the postal vote issue is still awaiting the final decision of the Spanish courts (the votes were not counted in the end), Calderón has taken over at the Santiago Bernabeu and is already making changes, with vice-president Emilio Butragueño and sporting director Benito Floro already clearing their desks. As expected Fabio Capello returns as the new manager, and he has already intimated that he will be taking a harder line than his predecessors.

Less obvious though is whether Calderón will be able to fulfil his promise of new signings, with AC Milan, Chelsea and Arsenal already up in arms about approaches to Kaká, Robben and Cesc. Most of the other candidates have offered the players they had tied up, with Diarrá and Joaquín in particular of interest, and Capello is also adding his names to the shopping list, with Manchester United's Van Nistelrooy and a couple of his old charges at Juventus as possible new recruits, depending upon the fate of the club in the Italian courts.

Elsewhere the news is on the managerial front, with Clemente sacked sensationally by Athletic Bilbao after supposedly protesting about the new signings the club had made. Ex Espanyol boss Lotina was favourite to take over, but in the end the club decided to go for B team coach Félix Sarriurgarte. Surprise and indignation at Racing Santander as well, where new coach López Caro handed in his resignation, reportedly after falling out with at least one of the directors, and agreed to take over from Mané as manager of Levante. López Caro's successor at Real Madrid Castilla, Miguel Angel Portugal, is the new man at Racing, his own job being given by the new president to Michel, ex team mate of Butragueño in one of Real Madrid's most successful sides ever. The merry-go-round continues..... (08.07.06)