Joan Laporta has won the Barcelona presidential election by a landslide, beating off competition from Victor Font and Toni Freixa.
Laporta has been a frontrunner since announcing his candidacy and was previously Barça president between 2003 and 2010, in what was one of the most successful periods in the club’s history.
His ascension is now all but confirmed, with an exit poll conducted by Catalan television company TV3 (via Sky Sports) projecting him to win a majority of votes. Laporta is expected to earn 58.3% of ballots cast with Font only expected to win 31.3% and Freixa 9.3%.
Laporta ran a flamboyant campaign, posting a massive poster of himself a stone’s throw from the Santiago Bernabeu and also claiming that Lionel Messi would depart the club if he did not win the election. Now, he faces a huge challenge to get Barcelona back on an even keel.
2020 was an annus horribilis for the club both on and off the field. The footballing low point was an 8-2 humbling by Bayern Munich, but there was plenty of other misery to go around.
In the boardroom, the coronavirus pandemic plunged the Blaugrana into financial chaos, with players taking two separate pay cuts. There was also the Messi fiasco, where he tried to force a move away only to end up staying in Catalonia, at least until the end of this season when his contract expires.
More recently, the man that Laporta is succeeding as president, Josep Maria Bartomeu, was arrested as part of a police investigation into the ‘Barçagate scandal’, alongside several other club officials.
It is reported that Bartomeu attempted to avoid the club auditing payments to l3Ventures – a company hired to spread messages in defence of the Barça board on social media – by splitting the contract three ways.