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Election disputes plunge Real into further chaos

Written by: Staff

MADRID, July 3 (Reuters) Real Madrid's disputed presidential election will hamper efforts to revive the team's fortunes for next season, the candidate who claimed victory warned today.

Ramon Calderon, a 55-year-old lawyer, polled 246 more votes than Juan Palacios yesterday but the club refrained from declaring him president because of confusion over the validity of the postal vote.

Rival candidate Juan Miguel Villar Mir, who stood with former world rally champion Carlos Sainz, said he would challenge the result because postal votes had not been taken into account.

A judge provisionally suspended the postal vote on Friday after Calderon and other candidates raised concerns about the lack of guarantees to ensure its legitimacy.

If an estimated 7,000 postal votes are allowed to be included, they could change the result of the election.

''Villar Mir doesn't accept that he has been defeated and he wants to damage Real Madrid,'' said Calderon. ''The saddest thing of all is that some people within in the club are helping him do this.

''Their actions are totally unacceptable. The club cannot afford to waste a minute more. (Sporting director) Pedja (Predrag) Mijatovic is ready to sign new players, but if the result is delayed he can't do it.'' Calderon has said he will bring Juventus boss Fabio Capello back as coach and sign Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas, Chelsea winger Arjen Robben and AC Milan's Brazil midfielder Kaka to strengthen the squad.

FURTHER CONTROVERSY There was further controversy today when the club published the official voting figures on its website, saying that 11,866 members had voted in the final hour.

Witnesses suggested there had been fewer than at previous times during the day when the peak attendance had been 2,805.

The controversy was the latest setback to the nine-times European champions's attempts to arrest an alarming downturn in form.

The crisis was sparked when president Florentino Perez threw in the towel in February after his six-year experiment in constructing an all-conquering ''galactico'' superteam collapsed around him.

His successor Fernando Martin pledged to knock the team into shape and appoint a new coach within weeks of taking charge, but he was ousted after two months following a boardroom rebellion.

Caretaker president Luis Gomez-Montejano then took charge to oversee a new election with the club unable to sign any new players or a coach during the campaign.

Some members laid the blame for the crisis firmly at the door of former president Perez.

The construction magnate was greeted with cries of ''traitor'' and ''coward'' when he turned up to vote at the marquee set up in the shadow of the Bernabeu. ''You are to blame for all of this,'' said one elderly club member as he left the stadium.

Reuters PDS GC1732

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