Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned as Barcelona president on Tuesday, together with his board of directors, and left with a bombshell admission that he had accepted a proposal for the club to play in “a future European Super League”. Bartomeu’s departure comes following mounting pressure from fans and his public falling-out with Lionel Messi. His resignation could impact the way forward for Messi, who will now be provided a new project after trying to leave in August.
“I need to communicate my resignation together with the remainder of the board,” said Bartomeu in an official announcement. “It is a composed and relaxed decision, agreed with all my fellow directors.”
On the other hand, it was once his revelation approximately a Super League which seems sure to make the biggest waves beyond Catalonia.
Bartomeu said he accepted a proposal on Monday for Barcelona to play in “a future European Super League” which “would warranty the financial stability of the club”.
Earlier this month, Barcelona announced losses of 97 million euros ($114m) for final season, with debt more than doubling to 488 million euros.
– ‘Weak and imaginary competition’ –
Bartomeu and his board could even be held personally liable for the financial shortfall, which could be why he was once eager to present a Super League as their money-making solution.
La Liga president Javier Tebas tweeted: “Unlucky observation from Bartomeu on his final day approximately Barcelona joining a weak and imaginary competition which would be their ruin. It confirms his ignorance approximately the football industry.”
An election for Bartomeu’s successor will take place inside three months, with an interim board taking charge in the meanwhile.
The position of Ronald Koeman, appointed coach in August, becomes more uncertain. A new president could bring in their own coach, either immediately or at the end of the season.
Bartomeu’s six-year tenure saw a dramatic decline in the performances of the team, culminating in the 8-2 defeat by Bayern Munich in final season’s Champions League.
He then oversaw Messi, the club’s greatest ever player, trying to leave for free.
Bartomeu’s resignation means avoiding a vote of no confidence, which had been triggered after over 20,000 Barcelona members signed a petition for him to be removed.
Attempts to delay the vote, including launching an investigation into false signatures and referring to problems caused by coronavirus, were rejected by the native government in Catalonia, with Bartomeu quitting on Tuesday following a board assembly.
He said the native government’s decision was once “irresponsible” and cited the vote as the reason for his resignation in the context of the health crisis.
“We cannot and don’t need to be in the situation of having to choose from protecting health and exercising the vote,” said Bartomeu.
But his departure had long been a opportunity after a series of political blunders created anger and mistrust between the board and players.
– Chaotic years –
Messi reacted angrily in January to suggestions the players were to blame for the sacking of coach Ernesto Valverde and then criticised the board in March over their handling of pay negotiations.
There was once also the ‘BarcaGate’ scandal in February, when the club denied hiring a company to spice up the board’s image on social media, in part by discrediting key players like Messi and Gerard Pique.
Barcelona’s decline on the pitch had begun far earlier, possibly way back to 2017 when Neymar joined Paris Saint-Germain, prompting a chaotic few years in the transfer market.
Immense sums were spent on replacements for Neymar but few proved successful and probably the most most expensive — Antoine Griezmann, Ousmane Dembele, Philippe Coutinho — are yet to deliver.
While Messi failed in his attempt to force a way out, he made lucid his anger towards Bartomeu in an interview with Goal.
“He didn’t end up keeping his word”, said Messi. “It has been a very long time since there was a project or anything at all.”
Victor Font and Joan Laporta are expected to run to be Bartomeu’s successor.
Font has attached his crusade to the appointment of ex-Barcelona midfielder Xavi Hernandez as coach while Laporta was once president throughout the golden era under Pep Guardiola.
“Barça need a rescue,” wrote Font on Twitter. “Tonight I tell you with more enthusiasm than ever that we’ve got the ideas, the team and the drive to rebuild the club.”
Barcelona are currently 12th in La Liga. Bartomeu’s final match was once Saturday’s 3-1 defeat by Real Madrid.
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