Real Madrid was founded in 1902 with Atlético Madrid founded by three Basque students in 1903. Initially Real supporters came from the middle class in the north of the city, while the Atlético supporters were drawn from the working class in the south. The Bernabeu is located alongside banks and businesses, while the Calderon can be found beside a brewery, further outlining the difference in the traditional supporter base, though these lines are largely blurred today.
Real Madrid have long been seen as the establishment club as they were the puppets of General Franco (Spanish dictator from 1936 – 1975), led by hard-line conservative Santiago Bernabéu (whose name the Real stadium now takes), and aided by the government and fearful referees. Although during the early Franco years it was Atlético that was the preferred team of the regime, being associated with the military air force, the regime’s preferences moved towards Real Madrid in the 1950s. It is widely alleged that Franco’s regime subsequently intervened to ensure success for Real Madrid for political and propaganda purposes, although this is denied by Real Madrid supporters.
Real’s close affiliation to the Spanish government remains to this day, made only to evident when their training facilities were sold to the government for €480m, only to be sold back to Real for €1, a deal which has subsequently been investigated by the EU. Real Madrid is also closely aligned with Spanish newspaper Marca, giving them a media outlet to promote their interests. All of this serves to re-enforce the many political undertones associated with El Derbi Madrileño including right wing versus left wing, the sanitized north versus the ‘real’ city of the south, the favored versus the persecuted and the media darlings versus the unfashionable battlers.