Barcelona have confirmed that Joan Laporta has been named as the club’s president for the second time after he won the election with more than 54% of the vote. The vote was set to take place in January but was postponed to March because of the coronavirus with three candidates in the running.
With Josep Maria Bartomeu resigning in October, Barcelona were set to hold their elections in January with many hoping that a new president would change things at the club. It saw three candidates – Joan Laporta, Victor Font and Toni Freixa – become favourites although reports indicated that many hoped Laporta would walk away as the winner. That is exactly what has happened, with the former Barcelona president elected for the second time.
Laporta previously held the post nearly a decade ago, between 2003 and 2010, and won the election by a landslide with over 54% of the votes. The Spaniard’s central pledge was to keep Lionel Messi at the club and he admitted that seeing the Argentine vote in the elections made him very happy. Laporta further added that they, the club, are going to encourage Messi to stay and the fact that he voted shows that the Argentine wants to stay at the club.
"Today, 20 years ago, Messi made his debut for Barca's youth teams. To see the best player in the world, the player in the history of football, coming to vote, is a sign of what we have said throughout the campaign: that Messi loves Barca. The best player in the world loves Barca, and that is very significant. We're going to encourage him to continue with the club, which is what we all want,” Laporta said, reported ESPN.
The former Barcelona president takes over at a tough time for the club with them in serious debt after reports indicated that their gross debt rose to 1.2 billion. Not only that, the club has various other problems across the board including inflated salaries, poor performances and an underperforming youth academy. But Laporta added that the club will “overcome the difficulties together” and “achieve the objectives” that they’ve set out.
"I want to thank all the members for coming out to vote what has been the most important election in the club's history due to [the effects of] the coronavirus pandemic, which has changed our lives. I want to thank the members that have supported our campaign."
“This has been a celebration of democracy and of Barcelona. I also want to pay special thanks to Johan Cruyff, who's no longer with us. I am sure he's helped us. Barcelona is a huge family, and we will overcome the difficulties together. We will achieve the objectives that we have set out," he added.