Real officials resign after Marca allegations

MADRID - Two Real Madrid officials have resigned after newspaper allegations that unauthorised persons were allowed into the club's general assembly last month and votes manipulated, the club said on Wednesday.

Real President Ramon Calderon, who said late on Tuesday he will probably not stand for re-election when his four-year mandate ends in 2010, named the two officials as Mariano Rodriguez Barrutel and Luis Barcena.

The club has set up a commission to investigate the accusations in Marca, Calderon said at a news conference at the Bernabeu stadium, and insisted that neither he nor any other member of the management board were involved in irregularities.

"None of us participated either directly or indirectly in these acts," Calderon said, flanked by the other members of his management board.

"We all had a nasty surprise when we read of the facts reported in Marca," he said. "We did not do anything. We are victims." He ruled out his own resignation, or that of the board, saying it would be too disruptive for the squad.

Marca reported this week that unauthorised persons had gained access to the club's assembly on December 7 and their presence had helped swing votes on key issues, including the annual accounts, in favour of the management.

Calderon, 57, has denied any wrongdoing but said in a radio interview on Tuesday night he would probably not present himself for re-election.

"From today's perspective, I don't think I will stand when I call the elections," Calderon said in comments to Cadena Ser published on Real's website on Wednesday.

"This is a very attractive job but I am not interested in staying here for life." Real have won back-to-back Primera Liga titles but Calderon has still found himself criticised by fans and local media, often for his failed bids to bring in high-profile players.

In the Cadena Ser interview, Calderon appealed to the media to stop publishing what he called lies.

"It's very difficult to go into work every day thinking about what you will read in the press. It doesn't help the team or the club," he said.

"In the past two-and-a-half years I have given up my legal work and not dedicated the time I should have done to my family."

Calderon's woes have sparked speculation that former president Florentino Perez may be planning a comeback.

Perez resigned in 2006 after his six-year experiment in assembling a "galactico" super team collapsed as the club headed for a third successive season without a major trophy, their worst run in more than 50 years.

Calderon has been unable to make good on a pledge to bring Arsenal midfielder Cesc Fabregas and AC Milan's Brazilian playmaker Kaka to the club and his attempt to lure Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo also ended in failure.