Football

Laporta returns as Barcelona president ahead of PSG Champions League showdown

Joan Laporta, who takes over from Josep Maria Bartomeu, was Barcelona president between 2003 and 2010.
Joan Laporta, who takes over from Josep Maria Bartomeu, was Barcelona president between 2003 and 2010. REUTERS - ALBERT GEA

Joan Laporta was elected president of Barcelona on Sunday four days before the club attempts to recover from 4-1 down to Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of Champions League.

Advertising

Laporta, supremo between 2003 and 2010, won 54.28 percent of tthe 51,765 votes cast. Victor Font came second and Toni Freixa was third.

Star striker and skipper Lionel Messi was among several Barcelona players to vote in the election a day after the side won 2-0 at Osasuna to go second behind Atletico Madrid in La Liga.

Laporta's first match of his second spell as president comes on Wednesday night at the Parc des Princes in the second leg of the last-16 tie against PSG.

Despite Barcelona's 4-1 mauling at the Camp Nou, Laporta told his supporters on Sunday: "We're off to Paris to stage a comeback."

Four years ago, in what became known as la remontada, Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit to advance to the last eight 6-5 on aggregate.

Laporta, 58, succeeds Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October to avoid facing a vote of no confidence from members who turned on him after Messi tried to leave the club last August and the team's 8-2 humiliation at the hands of Bayern Munich in the last eight of the 2020 Champions League.

Bartomeu was arrested last Monday in a Catalan police inquiry into allegations of improper management and business corruption. He has not commented on his arrest and made use of his right not to give a statement in court.

Prizes

During Laporta's first term,  Barcelona, fielding Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi Fernandez and Carlos Puyol, claimed four La Liga crowns and two Uefa Champions League titles. 

He celebrated his presidential victory by singing the club's anthem with his campaign team and sipping champagne.

As well as warning PSG of another Barca revival, Laporta lavished praise on Messi who has less than four months left on his contract.

"Twenty years ago a little boy called Leo Messi made his debut with Barca's youth team, said Laporta.

"Seeing the best player in the world come out to vote is a clear sign of what we keep saying. Leo loves Barca.

"The best player in the world loves Barca and I hope that is a sign that he will stay at Barcelona, which is what we all want."

Problems

Laporta takes over a club with huge financial problems due to the coronavirus pandemic eliminating ticket revenue and hitting income from  merchandising.

The club's last accounts showed a gross debt of more than 1.4 billion euros with a net debt of 488 million euros.

The club agreed a temporary player pay-cut last year while it had to delay payments to players in December.

On the field, Ronald Koeman's side have won 13 of their last 16 league games to sit three points behind pacesetters Atletico Madrid. They have also reached the final of the Copa del Rey in Spain.

 

 

Daily newsletterReceive essential international news every morning