Barcelona’s rollercoaster year shows no signing of ending any time soon with the club braced for more chaos before they kick off their 2020-21 La Liga season against Villarreal in just over a week’s time.
President Josep Maria Bartomeu is under pressure after a campaign by a group of members, Mes que una Mocio, secured 20,731 signatures to force a referendum on a vote of no confidence. Only 16,520 signatures from club members were required to trigger the vote.
The signatures will now be checked and if 16,520 are found to be valid then a referendum will be held. Bartomeu will be forced out if 66.5 percent of members vote against the president.
The 57-year-old is set to leave the club shortly anyway. Barcelona will hold presidential elections in March, but Bartomeu can not stand again as he has already served two terms.
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Messi Blasts Bartomeu
Bartomeu is unpopular with supporters who are unhappy with the way the club has been run and the signings that have been made during his tenure. The 57-year-old also came in for criticism from captain Lionel Messi recently.
The Argentine hit out at the club president in a recent interview with Ruben Uria at Goal where he confirmed he would be staying at the club for the 2020-21 season because Barcelona had made it all but impossible for him to leave.
“I told the club, including the president, that I wanted to go. I’ve been telling him that all year. I believed it was time to step aside I believed that the club needed more young players, new players and I thought my time in Barcelona was over. I felt very sorry because I always said that I wanted to finish my career here.
“It was a very difficult year, I suffered a lot in training, in games and in the dressing room. Everything became very difficult for me and there came a time when I considered looking for new ambitions.
“I told the president and, well, the president always said that at the end of the season I could decide if I wanted to go or if I wanted to stay and in the end he did not keep his word.”
Messi is now in the final year of his contract and could walk away for free when his deal expires at the end of next season.
Setien Taking Legal Action Against Barcelona
Barcelona are also facing further disruption as former boss Quique Setien has announced he will be taking legal action against the Catalan giants. The 61-year-old was sacked in the wake of the club’s embarrassing Champions League exit to Bayern Munich in August after just 25 games and seven months in charge.
Dutchman Ronald Koeman was subsequently placed in charge, but Setien has released a statement claiming he only received written confirmation that he has been sacked from Barcelona this week.
“Following a month of complete silence from the Barcelona board and following various requests made by us, we didn’t receive the first official communication from the club until yesterday [Wednesday] and did so via burofax,” read his statement.
“This communication reveals the clear intention of the board to not fulfil the employment contracts signed on January 14, 2020. In my case, the club and the president very publicly announced my sacking with immediate effect on August 17.
“However, it wasn’t until yesterday – which was almost one month later on September 16 – that they first sent me the official communication of this sacking – without any settlement.”
According to Juan Jimenez and Javier Miguel at AS, Setien is demanding €4 million in compensation from the Catalan giants.
It’s more off-field drama that continues a chaotic year for the club, and new manager Koeman will surely be hoping the events taking place away from the pitch do not distract his players ahead of their season opener against Villarreal.