Earlier this week, Barcelona’s president Josep Bartomeu and the club’s entire board have announced their resignation, weeks after the conflict with star player Lionel Messi and the humiliating loss to bitter rival Real Madrid in the first El Clasico at Camp Nou. Bartomeu has stepped down from his position before his fate at the club to be decided through fans’ vote of no confidence.
More than 20,000 of Barcelona’s 110,000 members had signed a petition opposing Bartomeu after local officials agreed to schedule a vote of no confidence in the board, following the club’s worst start to a football season in over a decade. The petition started after the club’s embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League final prompted Messi to announce his departure at the club.
Speaking at a press conference, Bartomeu said: “I am communicating my resignation from my position of president, along with my entire board of directors. This is a thought out and relaxed decision, agreed with all my fellow directors.” His second and final term in office was due to expire in March. Reports said that an election will be scheduled to appoint a new president.
Bartomeu was under fire following his refusal to let the Messi leave the Camp Nou during the summer transfer window. Messi attempted to secure a move to reunite with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City. However, Bartomeu insists that Messi is still under contract. Messi cited Bartomeu’s lack of vision and leadership as reasons he wanted to leave, and blasted him by saying that he was deceived by Bartomeu.
Bartomeu previously served as vice president to Sandro Rosell, who stepped down from his role after a lawsuit was filed in alleged hiding of Neymar’s transfer cost. He took over Rosell’s post in 2014 and was re-elected on a new six-year mandate in 2015 following Barcelona’s Treble in the 2014-15 season. In April, six board members resigned due to disagreements over how the club was being run by Bartomeu.
In a Twitter post, La Liga President expressed his dismay and joined the criticism against Bartomeu. “Unfortunate Bartomeu statement on his last day about FC Barcelona joining a weak and imaginary competition which would be their ruin,” Tebas wrote. “It confirms his ignorance about the football industry. Sad end for a president with successes and lately many mistakes.”
The Catalan club won four La Liga titles and the Champions League during Bartomeu’s reign and is now preparing to face Serie A champions Juventus this week. Barcelona is currently 12th in the Spanish La Liga after five games and lost 3-1 to rivals Real Madrid three days ago, its worst start to a season since 2008. Bartomeu leaves Barcelona after nearly seven years in charge.
Barcelona’s finances has also been put in jeopardy due to the pandemic and also due to the stewardship of the club under its now-ex-leadership. The club announced earlier this month that the club lost €97 million ($114 million) for last season, and its debt swelled to €488 million. Victor Font, Jordi Roche and Joan Laporta are among the candidates expected to run in an election to replace Bartomeu.