Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned as Barcelona President. With a fans’ vote of confidence expected soon, Bartomeu has decided not to wait and instead stepped down, taking the board of directors with him. An election is scheduled within the next 90 days to appoint his successor. A temporary board will oversee day-to-day business until a new executive board is appointed.
It comes as no surprise considering more than 20,000 Barcelona fans signed a petition earlier this month demanding Bartomeu’s removal as president. That triggered a referendum on Bartomeu’s position, which he was expected to lose. By stepping down, he avoids the shame of losing that vote.
Bartomeu replaced Sandro Rosell in 2014 and was re-elected in 2015 on a six-year mandate. This followed Barcelona winning the treble under Luis Enrique’s management, and all seemed well. However, in recent years Bartomeu has angered Barca fans and, more importantly, players. His recent refusal to let Lionel Messi leave was well-publicized, while Gerard Pique called an apparent smear campaign against players by the club an “atrocity.”
Joan Laporta has already announced his intention to run. Laporta was Barca president from 2003 to 2010 and ran his campaign to bring Pep Guardiola back to the club. Guardiola is currently under contract at Premier League side Manchester City but has managed Barcelona in the past, with much success.
Victor Font, a successful businessman, has also said he will run. His vision is for the club to return to its academy roots. At one point, La Masia (as it’s better known) was one of the best globally, but the recent decline has been significant. He would like to bring former player Xavi back to manage the club.
This all leaves current manager Ronald Koeman in limbo. Koeman was only appointed in August, but with Bartomeu stepping down and the recent El Clasico defeat to Real Madrid, it seems his time as manager is numbered.