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Who will be Barcelona's new president? Laporta, Font and the election candidates to succeed Bartomeu

12:30 GMT 26/01/2021
Joan Laporta Toni Freixa Barcelona
The Catalan giants have a democratic tradition in electing their figurehead, with club members all casting a ballot to replace the outgoing president

The motto of Barcelona is 'Mes Que Un Club' and it is etched into the amphitheatre of Camp Nou as a reminder to the world that the Catalan outfit is about more than just football.

Indeed, the club occupies a special place at the heart of the Barcelona community and, historically, it has conducted its business somewhat differently to many of its counterparts in Spain and elsewhere.

While most supporters of the club across the world will more or less stop at following their on-field fortunes or buying the shirt, others become members and they are very much hands-on.

The members have an equal say in the direction the club travels in through the presidential elections.

Contents

  1. When are Barcelona's presidential elections?
  2. Who are the Barcelona presidential election candidates?
  3. Who is Barcelona's current president?
  4. Who can vote in Barcelona presidential elections?

When are Barcelona's presidential elections?

The date of the next Barcelona presidential election will take place on March 7, 2021, having previously been slated for January 24 but then delayed once again.

The electoral campaign was due to officially begin on January 15 and run until January 22 - which would have taken proceedings up to two days before the original date of the election.

An individual who has been elected Barcelona president earns a mandate to serve in the post for six years. That means elections take place every six years, barring extraordinary circumstances.

Ex-president Josep Bartomeu did not seek re-election in 2021, and resigned in October ahead of the end of his tenure next year.

Lionel Messi cited a long-standing dispute with the Bartomeu in an exclusive interview with Goal, as well as his unhappiness at the way the club was being run and his lack of faith in Barcelona's future: “I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I've been telling him that all year. I believed it was time to step aside.

“I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over. I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here."

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Who are the Barcelona presidential election candidates?

There are now just three remaining candidates for the role of Barcelona president. They are: Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa.

Laporta, who previously served as Barcelona president from 2003 until 2010, received the most signatures backing his candidacy, followed by Font, then Freixa.

Jordi Farre, Xavier Vilajoana, Agusti Benedito, Luis Fernandez Ala and Pere Riera had been removed from the race after failing to meet the threshold of 2,257 signatures.

Emili Rousaud, meanwhile, withdrew from the race and said that he could not be involved in what he described as "a dirty war" to succeed Bartomeu.

Notably, Font and Laporta are understood to have signed a vote of no confidence against Bartomeu to oust him prior to March 2021.

Font is determined to implement a number of changes at Barcelona.

"We have a lot of challenges for the next five or 10 years," he said, per Marca, in early 2019. "A key one, and one of the first, is the management of the end of [Lionel] Messi [as he gets towards retiring]."

As well as preparing for Messi's retirement, Font pin-pointed issues such as players' image rights, the need to sell players and placing an emphasis on consulting directly with members on major proposals.

He has spoken of getting Xavi back involved and has been backed by the likes of Carles Puyol, Gerard Lopez and former president Joan Gaspart, who served from 2000 until 2003.

While Font has advocated replacing current coach Ronald Koeman, Freixa threw his own support behind the Dutch manager, insisting the tactician is the long-term answer.

"When I talk about him it gives me goosebumps, he knows our club and he has great leadership," Freixa said. "He has arrived and is already making decisions, when you hire a coach you have to support him until the end."

A number of candidates have also discussed the possibility of bringing Neymar back to the club, while Laporta, who recently revealed that he rejected the chance to sign Cristiano Ronaldo, is reportedly targeting Erling Haaland.

Laporta is reportedly the favourite to win the election and, like the others, has stressed the importance of keeping hold of Messi and completing the stadium project.

"It is very important, on a priority level. Great players have passed through Barcelona, ​​the best in their time, but Leo is special," Laporta told Goal.

"He is the best in the world and surely in history, which is why he is so valued. The issue is so important for Barca that we have to do whatever it takes to maintain harmony."

During Laporta's previous reign as president, Barca won four Liga titles and two Champions Leagues among other trophies, with players such as Ronaldinho joining the team on his watch.

He appointed Pep Guardiola as head coach and was behind the addition of children's charity UNICEF as a shirt sponsor in 2006.

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Who is Barcelona's outgoing president?

Josep Maria Bartomeu was the most recent president of Barcelona. The president's job involves helping to shape policy, overseeing transfers, signing contracts and being the public face of the club in business.

A native of Catalunya, Bartomeu took on the role on an interim basis in 2014 after Sandro Rosell's resignation. He then won the 2015 election, officially becoming the 40th president of the club's history.

The CEO of the ADELTE group and EFS, Bartomeu was also involved with the boards of previous presidents Rosell and Joan Laporta.

Bartomeu became an increasingly unpopular figure at the club, with Messi having  outlined Bartomeu's handling of the club affairs and their deteriorating relationship as one of the key reasons he wanted to leave in the summer.

Complaints were related to reports that the club had hired a social media contractor to discredit individuals such as Messi, Gerard Pique and Pep Guardiola. Bartomeu has denied the reports.

He resigned from his post in October 2020, with the entire board stepping down.

A total 20,687 votes were amassed to vote for the motion against Bartomeu, passing the required minimum of 16,250 signatures for it to go through.

The board had tried to delay the vote but local authorities rejected the club's push to stall the procedures.

Carles Tusquets took over the role from Bartomeu on an interim basis following his resignation.

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Who can vote in Barcelona presidential elections?

Only socios (club members) - socis in Catalan - have the right to vote in Barcelona presidential elections.

In order to be eligible to vote, socios must be at least 18 and they must have been socio for at least one year. They must also be present in Barcelona at Camp Nou to vote.

Find out more about becoming a Barcelona member on the club's official website.

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