Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to face a vote of no-confidence from the club’s members after a campaign group seeking his removal garnered the necessary number of signatures on Thursday to force the vote.
Resentment against Bartomeu has been growing in the last year due to the club’s worsening finances and the team’s decline on the pitch, which came to a head with their 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.
An already fraught situation was made worse when star striker Lionel Messi handed in a transfer request following the defeat although he later backed down.
A motion to remove the 57-year-old Bartomeu was filed the day after Messi’s transfer request.
“Mes que una mocio” (More than a motion), a group of members supported by candidates for next year’s presidential election, said they had gathered 20,731 votes by Thursday’s deadline.
Barcelona announced later on Thursday that 20,687 signatures backing a vote of no confidence have been counted — comfortably clearing the required 16,520 to trigger the vote.
“Member Jordi Farre, promoter of the vote of censure against the FC Barcelona board of directors, has delivered the signatures of the club members who support his request to the offices of the Barcelona Supporter Services Office (OAB),” Barcelona said in a statement here.
The signatures must now be examined and counted over the next 10 days by a three-person panel comprising of a representative from the club, the Catalan football federation and the campaign group proposing the vote of no-confidence.
Provided at least 16,520 votes are valid, the club’s statutes state it must hold a referendum within three months, with 66.5% of the club’s 150,000 members needing to vote against Bartomeu and his board to force their removal.
Should the motion of censure go ahead, Bartomeu will be the third president to face a vote of no-confidence after Josep Lluis Nunez in 1998 and Joan Laporta in 2008, with the vote failing to pass on both occasions.
Bartomeu’s time as club president is coming to a close regardless of whether the vote goes ahead, as he will be unable to contest the elections that will be held in March after serving two terms.
Bartomeu, who became president in 2014 when then incumbent Sandro Rosell resigned, also faced criticism for the ‘Barca-gate’ scandal after the club hired a social media monitoring firm which was accused of seeking to undermine other presidential candidates as well as former and current players.
Club member Agusti Benedito tried to trigger a vote of no-confidence against Bartomeu in September 2017 but only managed to gather 12,504 votes, 4,000 less than required.
Meanwhile, former manager Quique Setien and three of his assistants also announced on Thursday that they are suing the club for failing to fulfill the terms of their contracts after being sacked last month.
They claim they only received written notice of their contracts being terminated on 16 September, despite his sacking taking place on 17 August.
Setien said he had not received any compensation and that a letter sent to him by the club on Wednesday “revealed the clear intention from the club to not comply with contracts we signed on 14 January 2020.”
Setien was appointed Barca coach in January after Ernesto Valverde was dismissed but he was sacked in August after the team ended the season empty handed and lost 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals, their worst ever defeat in European competition.