FC Barcelona: Six Board Members Resign and Criticise Club
Six Barcelona board members have resigned and told president Josep Maria Bartomeu they are unhappy at how the club is being managed.In a joint letter, the six expressed concern over the financial implications of the coronavirus crisis for the club.
They also criticised the handling of a scandal in February when the club were forced to deny hiring a firm to attack its own players on social media.
And they called for Barca to call new presidential elections.
Emili Rousaud and Enrique Tombas – two of the club’s four vice-presidents – quit alongside four directors: Silvio Elias, Josep Pont, Jordi Calsamiglia and Maria Teixidor.
Neither Bartomeu nor Barcelona have yet commented on the resignations. “We have arrived at this point because we cannot reverse the way the club is managed in the face of important challenges in the future, especially in the post-pandemic era,” the six said in their letter.
“We also want to show our displeasure over the unfortunate episode about the social media accounts, known as ‘Barcagate’, which we learned about through the press. “As our last act of service to the club, we recommend that elections are called as soon as circumstances permit so that the club can be managed in the best way possible and deal with the important challenges of the immediate future.”
Barcelona players will take a 70% pay cut during the coronavirus pandemic and make additional contributions to ensure non-sporting staff receive full wages.
Barcelona’s board of directors, members of its professional sports teams and most of the basketball team have also agreed to reduce their salaries.
The resignations at midnight came amid a turbulent period for the Catalan giants.
Star man Lionel Messi is at loggerheads with Bartomeu over he and his team-mates’ pay cut while the virus has put action on hold, only a few weeks after his fury at director Eric Abidal for publicly calling out the team, while Bartomeu was forced to deny orchestrating a social media campaign against Messi and other top names.
Barcelona have been feeling the financial effects of the coronavirus crisis in Spain with Messi and the rest of the Barcelona squad having taken massive pay cuts. The club has also said it will not cover non-playing staff wages and have put them on furlough despite Bartomeu saying the club would earn £878million this season.
Bartomeu is not obliged to call elections until 2021, when he will not be able to stand, but some board members – among them those who have resigned – had asked him to bring that date forward. According to the club’s statutes, Bartomeu can continue in the presidency because the number of those resigning is below 50% of the board.
Those statutes also say there must be at least 14 board members and the six resignations have reduced that to 13. It is possible further resignations may follow as the crisis deepens. Relationships had been strained for some time and tensions had been brought to the surface particularly by Bartomeu’s handling of the pay cuts imposed on the players, which had prompted Lionel Messi and the club captains to openly criticise the club.
Equally damaging had been claims that Barcelona had paid the company I3 Ventures to set up online accounts that allegedly wrote stories defending the president and damaging the image of some players and former players. It is claimed the service was paid for in three instalments, allegedly to avoid it being detected by internal financial controls.
The letter from the six directors called for the investigation into “Barcagate”, carried out by Price Waterhouse Cooper, to be concluded, and if appropriate for action to be taken and money returned. Barcelona have issued a statement denying wrongdoing and Bartomeu has described the allegations as “completely false”. I3 has also denied wrongdoing.
Rousaud and Tombas join Susana Monje, Javier Faus, Carles Villarrubí, Manuel Aroyo and Jordi Mestre as vice-presidents who have resigned under Bartomeu, who is both president and vice-president.