MADRID Real Madrid president Florentino Perez angrily denied a report in Marca sports daily on Thursday that said there was a rift between coach Jose Mourinho and club captains Iker Casillas and Sergio Ramos.
In an unusual move for the construction magnate, Perez called a news conference at the Bernabeu stadium to address the report, which he said was "simply a lie" and was "designed to destabilise the club".
Marca said, without naming the source of their information, that Casillas and Ramos had threatened to leave along with several team mates unless Mourinho was dismissed.
The alleged ultimatum was given at a meal with Perez and director general Jose Angel Sanchez this week, according to the paper.
"As you can see I have changed my normal practice of not commenting on the club's day-to-day affairs," a grim-faced Perez told reporters.
"It is completely false that at the meal with the captains we had on Tuesday any kind of ultimatum was given regarding the coach or anything of the kind," he added.
"As is normal for the month of January, we had a meal including the two captains, the director general and myself with the sole aim of agreeing the bonuses for the various competitions we are contesting this season.
"I believe that there are ethical limits that have to be respected, also for those who do not support our project."
Taking questions after his initial statement, Perez said he had not spoken to Mourinho about the Marca article and added that the newspaper had not contacted any of the four people present at the meal to check the details of the story.
(Reporting by Iain Rogers, Editing by Ed Osmond)