September 18 – Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is edging closer to being ousted after a group campaigning for his removal claim to have collected enough signatures to force a vote of no confidence.
Bartomeu has been heavily criticised by many of the club’s members and now faces a battle to keep his job despite Lionel Messi’s u-turn decision to stay.
“Mes que una mocio” (More than a motion), a group of members supported by candidates for next year’s presidential election, said they had gathered 20,731 votes by Thursday’s deadline.
Barcelona announced later that 20,687 signatures backing a vote of no confidence have been counted – comfortably clearing the required 16,520, the equivalent of 15% of all members, to trigger the vote.
“Member Jordi Farre, promoter of the vote of censure against the FC Barcelona board of directors, has delivered the signatures of the club members who support his request to the offices of the Barcelona Supporter Services Office (OAB),” Barcelona said in a statement.
The signatures must now counted over the next 10 days with Barcelona and the board having the right to “invalidate any ballot papers that are not sufficiently accredited and may make whatever inquiries are necessary in order to ascertain their authenticity.”
Provided at least those 16,520 votes are valid, the club’s statutes state a referendum must be held within three months, with 66.5% of the club’s 150,000 members needed to vote against Bartomeu and his board in order to force their removal.
Marc Duch, spokesman for the initiative, said: “We have a sufficient number of signatures and this morning we are receiving an avalanche. It is a real madness.”
Should the motion go ahead, Bartomeu will be the third president to face a vote of no-confidence after Josep Lluis Nunez in 1998 and Joan Laporta in 2008.
In both cases the vote failed to pass but Bartomeu’s time as club president is coming to a close regardless since he will be unable to contest the elections that will be held in March after serving two terms.
The motion of censure was filed by presidential candidate Jordi Farre on August 26, the day after Messi had declared his intention to leave the club.
Messi changed his mind rather than take Barca to court for failing to let him go but resentment against Bartomeu has been building, reaching a peak when the club failed to win a single trophy last season and were humiliated 8-2 by Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.
To make matters worse, former Barca coach Quique Setién, who was sacked and replaced by Ronald Koeman in the wake of the loss to Bayern, released a statement saying he planned to take legal action for breach of contract.
Setien released a strongly-worded statement claiming he and his backroom staff were only given official notification of his departure in the last 48 hours and that there has been no dialogue or clarification from the club about a severance package – which he was entitled to given his contract was due to run until 2022.
“It is public and well-known that on August 17 both the club and the president announced my dismissal with immediate effect,” the statement said. “After a month of absolute silence from Barcelona’s board of directors, and after diverse demands on our behalf, we did not receive any communication from the club until receiving a letter yesterday via burofax [recorded delivery].
“The letter revealed the clear intention from the club to not comply with contracts we signed on Jan. 14, 2020. Given everything expressed above, we have felt the need for our lawyers to find a solution to this conflict and take the corresponding legal action, in order to preserve our rights and everything we had previously agreed with Barcelona.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org