Joan Laporta returns as president of FC Barcelona. The 58-year-old lawyer received the most votes of the 110,000 ‘socios’ during the election on Sunday. He beat former director Toni Freixa and entrepreneur Victor Font by a wide margin.
Laporta is the successor of Josep Maria Bartomeu, who left under great pressure at the end of October. He left a club in serious financial trouble and was questioned by the police last week, probably for conducting a paid smear campaign against opponents of his policy, including star player Lionel Messi.
Laporta, who was good friends with club icon Johan Cruijff, was the big favorite beforehand. He already served as president of the Catalan club between 2003 and 2010. In 2015 he lost the presidential election to Bartomeu. Laporta expressed support at the end of last year to the current Barcelona coach, Ronald Koeman.
“All I know is that my contract will continue for another year after this season,” Koeman recently replied to questions about his future at the Catalan club. “The new chairman will have his say. I only focus on winning games. The rest is not in my hands.”
In any case, the new chairman will try to keep the still very defining Messi for the club. In addition, he will have to quickly draft and implement a rescue plan to ease Barcelona’s huge debt burden.