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Bartomeu: The club is better now than it was five years ago

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Bartomeu: The club is better now than it was five years ago

He assures the Managing Commission is entitled to make transfers

Josep Maria Bartomeu continues his campaign for FC Barcelona’s presidency, speaking on several occasions about his ideas for the club’s future and his candidacy.

“In five years we have won 12 titles, three trebles and we have the best attacking trio in world football,” the former president said. “Our front three and the treble signify the sporting success that we have initiated and that will last for two, three or four more years.”

About the economic project he said that he would like to continue what Rosell started in 2010 and what made it possible for Barça to become “the club with the biggest income in the world, the club which has grown the most, which has the most followers and contributes the most to charity, with a Foundation that is present on four continents and helps more than 400.000 kids around the world.”

Former club vice-president and current member of Bartomeu’s candidacy team, Jordi Cardoner added: “FC Barcelona is the club with most socís and penyas in the world and in our five years we made great efforts to improve their circumstances, we created the “Penyas council” and we managed to have them audited and established as a part of the club’s status. It’s also important to add that the Foundation has tripled its contribution to UNICEF in this time.”

According to Bartomeu, Barça is “better now than it was in 2010 and we want it to be even better in 2021.” The pre-candidate said that they want to keep on governing the club “with calm, rigor and transparency”. He also stated that “in these five years we worked a lot to improve the social area of the club, organizing more than 800 meetings with the penyas. We will continue to do this.”

Bartomeu noted the “unity of the last few months, which was reflected in the team and the club and was important for winning the treble and in these elections we are fighting for this unity we have, harmony amongst players, coaches, executives and socís.”

He also spoke about the importance of the “Espai Barça, that has already received majority support at the referendum. It will be a social space, for all to enjoy.”

He recalled that “we are standing for elections because we believe in this model of management and efficiency, a model for success. The club is better now than it was five years ago and that is due to our continuous efforts that were also reflected on the pitch.”

Asked about the date of the elections, Bartomeu said that: “we were told that July 18th is a date that facilitates a higher voting attendance because it’s a Saturday and everything is open: stores, cinemas, restaurants… Besides that, on Sunday July 19th, the first team leaves on the US tour and the president-elect should bid them farewell in an institutional capacity.”

The Neymar Case and the Managing Commission

About the Neymar Case, he was emphatic: “It has gone on long enough. There are some who didn’t like that he signed for us and it’s all a made up story that has been going on for months to destabilize the player, the team and the club. The other day, the Brazilian company filed a complaint two years after we signed him with lawyers from a Madrid firm. There are people who are upset about this, but Neymar is our player. I’m sure that it will all amount to nothing and I will always defend the club’s actions. At first they were talking about multiple contracts, now no one is talking about this; after they were talking about the taxes and when it became clear that there was no fiscal crime, DIS appears and files a complaint. The National Court washed its hands of this because they don’t have anything to investigate. Now we have to explain that we did things right to the courts here in Barcelona. At no point did we commit a crime or intent to evade taxes, our only wish was to sign Neymar. I would do it all over again.”

Bartomeu also said that “we don’t want to return to that dark era in which the members were divided and that’s why we called elections in January, calling for unity, and that unity led to the treble. We want the party to be on the pitch, not in the president’s box.”

He didn’t rule out that the “Managing Commission could seal transfers, either incoming or outgoing, because the planning of the following season has to be done, we left some things in motion already because we have to have stability and the incoming president won’t be able to change many things. Luis Enrique gave us some instructions. In any form, there’s no rush, we have time until August 31st.”

On this topic he also said: “We cannot paralyze the club's activities and give an advantage to our rivals. They are on the market watching players and sealing deals. The Management Commission can perform operations that are in the club's best interest,” adding that the important thing about the activity of the interim board is that Barça “keeps working so that the team will be even more competitive next season.”

“The actions the Management Commission is making now are the consequences of a planning process that started last October. In the month of April the technical committee and the coach, with the board’s approval, took a series of decisions that are currently being carried out. Some we did before resigning, some are being done now. The executives are continuing the sporting planning that will be in place regardless of who wins the elections because Luis Enrique will continue as the coach too. The socís can be at peace and happy knowing that while there is a campaign, the club keeps working,” the former president also said.

“Rosell has been my friend since I was 18 years old, but he is not behind this candidacy. Sandro is away from Barça, minding his personal stuff,” Bartomeu added.

Qatar sponsorship and the Pogba saga

Asked about Qatar, the former president said that: “In October 2014 we hired a company to look for sponsorship offers but so far the only serious offer we have is from Qatar Airways for the next 5 years. During the last few months, we received other offers and I even talked to two companies, but all the offers were inferior to Qatar’s. In the end, the General Assembly will decide in October. The club is still looking for sponsors and negotiating, but Qatar’s offer is the most serious one we’ve received so far. The elected board will have to present the sponsorship deals to the Assembly. If the other pre-candidates say they have offers they should give them to the club like we did and the Assembly will decide what is best or what it wants.”

He also praised Qatar for “fulfilling its promise to Catalunya and Barcelona, because it turned Barcelona into an important destination, we’re full of tourists and they also invested in Vueling and Iberia. Qatar also participates in companies like Audi, Volskwagen, Skoda, Seat, and others. You can’t evaluate Qatar only on the basis of its relationship with Barça. It’s a sponsor that has helped us all these years.”

“I don’t know how many signatures I’ve gathered so far. I only ask the socís to go and vote. The world is watching us, we are a reference point and we should set an example. I’m sure other clubs are envious of us, but I won’t say any names,” he added.

Bartomeu also talked about the controversial shirt for next season: “I love it, that’s why I chose it as Barça’s president. It was an innovative design. The one for the following season (2016-2017) has also been decided and it’s a traditional design.”

Asked about the sale of Deulofeu, he noted that “we’re talking about a player that doesn’t have any place in the current first team squad, but if he shines in the next few years he can return to Barça since the club has a buy back option. He was sold now because the buying team wanted him before they started their preseason.”

About the first team, Bartomeu affirmed his confidence in the current squad: “we have a very good team that only needs a few improvements. One is Aleix Vidal and the other one will be, according to Luis Enrique’s request, a player of Xavi’s profile. We have secured the deal with the player he asked us to sign, but we can’t say who he is. There is no successor for Xavi, he is irreplaceable, for his football and everything he represents. There will never be another player like him.”

Bartomeu also spoke about the club’s relationship with UNICEF: “It’s a very strong connection. In 2010 we were giving €1.5 million to them, now we’re giving €4.5 million through the ‘1in11’ program. It’s natural that the people from UNICEF are very pleased with us. We are helping kids in Nepal, Indonesia and Bangladesh get an education.”

About signing Pogba, Bartomeu said that “I cannot talk about what the club is doing. Looking for players is difficult. I’m not saying that we are looking at Pogba or not, but whatever the case might be the club has to work calmly and with discretion.”

“I know Mino Raiola very well. I was the one who negotiated Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2010. I had plenty of meetings with him and Mino was telling me: ‘One day Ibra will hit Pep’. Mino is a very entertaining man, but he looks after his own pocket. He is a specialist in taking players from one team to the other,” the former president said, in contrast to the words of Joan Laporta who claimed he had a great relationship with Raiola.

Asked about the prices of the season tickets, Bartomeu said that “we haven’t raised the prices in these five years and we want Barça to be a popular club, we don’t want people saying they can’t afford their season tickets. Our candidacy can guarantee that the prices will not go up in the next six years.”

Speaking about his future sporting director, the pre-candidate also took the time to recall the previous sporting director: “Zubizarreta was criticized a lot; there was a time when I felt like I was the only one defending him. He did a great job, but there came a time when he had to be replaced with other people. I cannot say the name of my chosen technical director. I don’t like using names in the campaign. I want people to vote for us for who we are. We will decide if we are going to announce this name or not, but I don’t like the war of names, I don’t know if it’s a good thing for Barça.”

Asked about the club’s relationship with FIFA Bartomeu said that “We were the first ones to point the finger at Blatter and now everyone is looking at him. We broke our relationship with Blatter because he did something very serious against Barça. When there is a new FIFA president, if I get elected, the first thing I will do is to talk to him to build some new bridges. When there were rumors about Blatter maybe pardoning Barça once he was re-elected in May we sent him a letter saying that we didn’t want his pardon or his mercy, because he was the one in the wrong.”

Talking about the candidacy team, the former president stated that “we are a board that is independent from all economic, political or media powers and we want for there to be complete transparency with the money guarantees [‘avals’, meaning 15% of the club’s income, which the new president would be required by law to provide] in case anyone else wins. It would be dangerous for Barça if someone other than the executives were the ones providing the money.”

“We had to have these guarantees in place in 2010, 2011 and 2012, until the club had gathered enough profit so that we didn’t need them anymore. We achieved that due to good management,” Bartomeu also said.

Speaking about other candidacies, Bartomeu said: “Everyone has their own way, but for me the strategy is to explain to the socís that we want to hear them out and reflect on their issues, but I don’t like how some are dividing the issue by saying ‘one is Qatar, one is UNICEF’. We don’t want to go down that road because it has been proven that united we are invincible and we want to maintain this unity. We are Barça and no company in the world has told us that wearing Qatar on our shirt, a decision that was approved by the Assembly with a majority, is bad for us. Not one, in all these years.”

He also wanted to make clear that: “We have helped Catalunya, our country, because we are a Catalan and Catalanist board, we back the Right to Decide, the Via Catalana passed through the Camp Nou and we provided the stadium for the Concert for Liberty. But, regardless of my status as socís or president, I will never approve of the club being used as a political tool, I am completely opposed to that.”

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Source: Sport, MD