Barcelona Presidential Election: Candidates’ Blueprints for Nou Camp Club

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Their Champions League dismantling, at the hands of Paris St-Germain in the first leg of their last-16 tie, is the latest low point for a club which not so long ago boasted of being able to count on a record income of 1bn euros (£865m).

But hiding behind the big numbers were unsustainable costs, in particular the biggest wage bill in world football.

The club is on the verge of bankruptcy with an obsolete stadium that needs renewing and the end of the Lionel Messi era on the horizon.

In a global era when talk of a European super league seems to be gathering pace and the season-ticket holder’s influence is being reduced everywhere, Barcelona want to remain in the hands of the fans who will vote for the next president. There are huge companies willing to buy a bit of the club but any talk of making it available to them is heresy in the Catalan press.

The three presidential candidates offer similar visions in many things but have very different personalities.

Joan Laporta, the favourite, won the 2003 election, modernised the club and changed a very negative dynamic, winning two Champions Leagues as well as six trophies in one year. His charisma is indisputable and he is independent of big media conglomerates or ‘big money’, but he has not come forward with many names – of players or directors – or detailed policy, as he feels he does not need to. It is the other two who need to catch him.

Victor Font, a successful businessman, has been floating his ideas longer than any of the three candidates, since announcing his intention to become president in 2018. He prefers the project to the names, he is less personality orientated than Laporta and has confirmed that Xavi will join him as football general manager if he gets elected. The same with Jordi Cruyff. Neither Xavi nor Cruyff have confirmed it, but the former midfielder will return if he is offered a job.

Toni Freixa was a Barcelona director for two years under Laporta and also joined the board under Laporta’s enemies, his successors at the helm Sandro Rosell and Josep Maria Bartomeu. He represents continuity to what has been done in recent times but with clear improvements, especially on the financial side of things. He likes to say the club is bigger than anyone, and accuses the previous board of not taking the big decisions like selling key players when needed, which has created this difficult situation they are in now. He is a strong personality and has the backing of an important side of the media.

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