Sources: Barca to elect new president in January

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Barcelona will elect a new president on Jan. 24, 88 days after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned from the role, sources have told ESPN.

The managing committee overseeing the running of the club had to call the election within 90 days of Bartomeu stepping down and eventually agreed on a date on Thursday following several meetings.

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Acting president Carles Tusquets has said the club will still be able to make signings in January, even if there is no president in place to sign them off.

During the 2015 electoral campaign, Barca signed Arda Turan after coach Luis Enrique requested his signing and the managing committee at the time did the deal.

Manager Ronald Koeman would like two signings in January with Manchester City defender Eric Garcia and Lyon forward Memphis Depay, both of whom are out of contract next summer, targets.

However, Tusquets has also said there must be player sales before signings due to the club’s financial situation.

So far, seven people have announced that they will stand to be the next Barca president. Victor Font, Xavier Vilajoana, Jordi Farre, Agusti Benedito, Luis Fernandez Ala, Toni Freixa and Pere Riera are all running.

Former president Joan Laporta is also expected to announce his candidacy later this month, sources have told ESPN, with Emili Rousaud and Joan Rosell also likely to stand.

One of the early favourites, though, Jordi Roche, has decided against running because of the club’s cash problems.

Barca announced earlier this year that the club’s debt had risen to almost €500 million and the managing committee is negotiating wage deferrals with the players as they look to knock €191m off the wage bill.

The coronavirus crisis has been hard on the club, with revenue from match days, the museum at Camp Nou and the club shops hit.

Roche has therefore decided to step aside with it unclear who will be liable for any losses this season.

As things stand, the incoming president will have to take responsibility for the losses, although Barca are hopeful the High Council for Sports in Spain will pass a new law relinquishing anyone of the blame due to the exceptional nature of the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the club’s ownership model, the president and their board of directors are liable for any losses. When elected, they must put up 15% of Barca’s annual budget as a guarantee — around €120m of this season’s €828m budget.

The new president will be elected on a six-year term, although in effect they will only serve for five-and-a-half years, with this season counting as a complete year even though they will only be elected in January.

Bartomeu stepped down in October rather than await a fans’ vote of confidence on his future at the club.

Sources have told ESPN that the motion to remove him — his mandate was up in 2021 — was an error. One source said it is making for a turbulent transition process from one board to the next, with the club still “as divided as ever.”