Now that there is so much trouble with the renovations of Lucas Vázquez, Modric and Sergio Ramos, I have remembered a photo from 1968 that Ernesto Calpe, brother of one of the protagonists, provided me not long ago.
Muñoz, Real Madrid coach, at the head. To his right Gento (the only one who dared to go without a jacket and tie) and to his left Araquistain, the oldest in the club. To the right of Gento, Amancio, the next in seniority, and to the right of him, Pirri and Calpe. To the left of Araquistain, Velázquez and Grosso. It seems that even the placement is composed respecting the hierarchies.
The eight finished their contract that year, the eight renewed in the same morning. I sent the photo to Pirri, he didn’t remember it. They gave so little importance to renovations then.
-First, that there was a retention right, so when the contract was over, the club could renew you if it wanted just by raising the contract by ten percent. But it was not necessary. We were all happy, the club was behaving and nobody would complain.
In fact, the contract was often upgraded on the fly if the player performed more than expected.
That 1968 gave rise to that special photo because many coincided and with it the club made the cover of its Real Madrid Newsletter of the month of May. He accompanied her with a laconic ‘No comment’. Neither on the cover nor in the entire magazine was there another allusion; It was only intended to send a strong message of stability.
The dynamics were the same every year: all those who wanted to renew their contract were summoned the same morning in the anteroom of Raimundo Saporta’s office. It used to be towards the end of the League, and before the start of the Cup, when it was already clear what each player had given of themselves.
There were no agents or anything like it. They passed one by one and neither was there for ten minutes:
-Let’s see … You had so much. We are going to give you how much. It’s okay?
-Of course, Don Raimundo.
Afterwards, some courtesy questions from ‘Don Raimundo’, about the pension (single people lived in a pension, something we would not conceive today), about the family, and a handshake. Rare was he who grumbled something. Once Pachín complained about what they offered him and did not sign, to the surprise of ‘Don Raimundo’. He went to Di Stéfano, who urged him on and they granted him what he asked for, but was marked as a rebel.
The contracts were for three years, except if the player had already reached 30 in which case they were renewed from year to year. Those who were not going to renew were called another day. If they had ‘been good’ they were treated delicately and destinations were suggested.
They charged for three games: the token, different depending on the player, a linear salary with little improvement for married couples plus a bonus for each child, and bonuses. The salary was equivalent to that of an average head of a large company. The chips were no better than those paid by Barça, Atlético or even Zaragoza to their Magnificent. The difference was made by the premiums. Madrid won a lot (La Liga almost every year) and went through the qualifying rounds of the European Cup, so that game was great. Only those who played received a premium, both for a win away, half for a draw away or a victory at home. Double bonus against three greats that the club set at the beginning of the League and a “malillo” set by the players. The substitute goalkeeper charged half a premium, the same as the injured until they were discharged.
That game grew with the friendlies. The European Cup occupied fewer dates, there were many for international friendlies, not only in summer. Madrid paid them ‘the dollar in peseta’. If the club charged $ 20,000, each player received 20,000 pesetas. Di Stéfano suggested charging only if they won, but with a plus for each goal difference. That seemed like a happy idea to Bernabéu and it was done.
The club advised them investments. And those who accepted were moved by money. Manolín Bueno was one of them. When he left, the club informed him that he had a house in Cádiz with several floors and some warehouses. Support for the rest of your life.
Those who decided to retire from the club were paid their salary for one more year, so that they did not have to touch their savings from day one.
(Bernabéu said that shortly after being president, he found a former Madrid player begging in El Tubo in Zaragoza. Hence so much concern).
That’s how happy they were signing with the bugle.
A model between authoritarian and paternalistic inconceivable today. Other times, other customs.