Credit: Racó Blaugrana

The first debate of the FC Barcelona presidential elections

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The first debate of the FC Barcelona presidential elections

Economics, Espai Barça, social and sporting plans were the main points

The first debate of the presidential campaign was held this past Monday at the Vic University in Barcelona. All the precandidates were present except for Josep María Bartomeu. Read the highlights of what Laporta, Benedito and Freixa had to say:

Economics

Laporta: “Everything can be improved: optimizing the best sponsors we have, getting new ones, improving shirt and tv deals. When I was president, we had a growth of 300 percent. In the last board, the growth was at 30 percent.”

Benedito: “We have noticed a standstill in the last two to three years. We have signed two very important contracts, supplied technical sponsors. They wanted to let go of optimal management, and I don't see that anywhere else.”

Freixa: “Revenues now are better than in 2010. There was a net debt of approximately €400 million. The situation is better, but there is a long way to go.”

Laporta on sponsors: “We left you with the best club in history. The club could sign anyone without any problems. They have not managed economical concepts well.”

Benedito to Freixa: “You spent €300 million on signings and you reduced the debt? I don’t know how you could have done that. They say that they have reduced the debt, but I'm afraid that things aren't as they should be.”

Freixa: “Yes, the sporting area has focused on signing players. We promoted responsible management in the sporting project. Bayern get €109 million more than us in revenue. I ask for rigorous interventions.”

Laporta: “You can theorize about situations, but the reality is that it must be managed well. We have to get better contracts than [what we’re getting] today.”

Freixa: “In the precandidacy I’ve found out that there are alternatives to Qatar.”

Benedito: “Qatar responded to Rosell's interest. One day we will end up being embarrassed that we had Qatar on our shirt. They should clearly say to Qatar that the club is not for sale. It is shameful what is happening.”

Laporta: “They lied to Qatar because it was necessary. Then it changed from Qatar Foundation to Qatar Airways. Now they are still lying when Bartomeu says that there is only one serious offer.”

Freixa: "We found that institutional leadership is conspicuous by our absence in the negotiation of television contracts. We have a long way to go and we can grow a lot."

Benedito: “When we talk about the economic issue, we focus on income, but we have to be careful with spending.”

Freixa: “Spending has increased, but the turnover has grown. The economic health is much better now than it was in 2010.”

Laporta: “We have a responsibility. We did well and we will do it well from 18 July, [by] applying methods that worked well.”

Heritage (Espai Barça)

Benedito: “I’m in favor of a stadium renovation but I’m very afraid of Espai Barça. Until we are sure that we’ll lose, I can’t commit to it.”

Freixa: “We must be clear that Espai Barça was put to a referendum and was approved. Who’s going to pay the €600 million? Two hundred million euros for selling name rights, €200 million from a loan and €200 million from our own financial resources.”

Laporta: “We are interested in a Nou Camp Nou. Saying Espai Barça is an understatement. It’s these demagogues that make the price reach €600 million. I’d say that they should name the stadium. We need to reach a consensus with the mayor of Barcelona regarding the Nou Camp Nou.”

Benedito: “People are not aware of the risk that we will take. The referendum was a tall tale. People do not have enough information.”

Freixa: “We have to respect the rules of democracy. We defined what we need: a roof, escalators, underground parking, and a new Miniestadi.”

Laporta: “The stadium should’ve been presented more specifically and should have been defined more to the socís. You can't try to sell by sending a letter to the kings, without the steps you have to go through.”

Benedito: “With a diversion of €300 million, the socís won’t pay. Where will the money come from? A turban?”

Freixa: “I don't understand these elliptical discourses. I am very optimistic. In the last five years we’ve succeeded with a plan in the sporting area. We are a very strong club in terms of finance and heritage.”

Benedito: “During the elections five years ago, we said that €40 million would be spent on an illuminated Forster project.”

Laporta: “With Mr. Bartomeu not here, we have Freixa. You talk about continuity, then you talk about being rigorous.”

Freixa: “We want to bury the 11-year war between Laportistas and Rosellistas. The debate should be about our constructive ideas. We must be aware that the Espai Barça project will be done.”

Benedito: “I’m committed to an immediate €50 million investment for six years. We want to place the club in a state of stability.”

Social Aspects

Freixa: “I want to prioritize the socís’ treatment. We will promote programs that allow more socís on the stands. We don’t want to promote a stand of entertainment (with ultras). We want to promote an entertainment system and a travel agency.”

Laporta to Freixa: “I don't like a controlled stand with ultras. What I want is spontaneity. There should be a tier with entertainment without putting violent people in it like you did. We must make it easier for socís to travel with the best possible facilities. We are open to good proposals.”

Benedito: “Yes, we’ve found a way to have a stand with entertainment but without violence. I’m not joking. I don’t agree with getting a travel agency. We want to continue with subsidies and regular pricing but not through an agency.”

Laporta: “Violence can’t be allowed to enter the stadium with prohibiting the entry of children.”

Benedito: “I try to represent those who think like me and those who do not. I’ll gladly support Catalunya, but not politically, at Barça. Politics should stay at the parliament.”

Freixa: “We had a zero-tolerance policy. If there were any violent socís, we’d take away their title as socís. Barça should be aware of the current situation in Spain. They should follow the people who decide, not put a stick in the wheels. At the same time, we shouldn’t offend culers.”

Laporta: “Obviously, these people [ultras] can express themselves, but they can’t be allowed in violent stands.”

Freixa: “The President can’t sign a document unilaterally without the board. The entertainment [ultras] stand was wrong from the beginning. We can make entertaining stands without violence. The president is the first among equals.”

Laporta: “We have lost weight in the institutional aspect. We can’t sign players because of poor management. We have to rebuilt bridges.”

Freixa: “There has been a lack of institutional leadership [and] that has weakened Barça and the leadership than it should have. Recently, the president has had a sin of arrogance. The Penya movements should be encouraged. The work in the last five years has been quite positive, but we want to give the World Confederation of Penyas transparent criteria.”

Benedito: “We have lost weight in institutional relations. I think there has been a feeling of arrogance, and I think Laporta did better in this area. The Penyas were managed well. The supporters are key.”

Laporta: “Some are speaking for a Barça University. Barça already have programs with universities, transmitting our values and principles.”

Benedito: “I give full support to universities. I know that we can help a lot.”

Freixa: “We had a program to promote the University of Barça. We want La Masia to be the uni of football and to have a link between the club and universities.”

Sports

Freixa: “The sports model for the past five years has led us to signing players and forming talents. I don’t know what we spent on Neymar.”

Benedito: “La Masia is no longer just for sports. I don’t know if they’ve forsaken their beliefs. We’ve lost steam and it’s urgent to recover it.”

Laporta: “Abidal will be responsible for the technical secretariat and Jose Ramon Alexanko will lead La Masia.”

Freixa: “You first have to explain what you want to do and then who you’ll do it with and how you’ll do it. It’s good that we have clear ideas. We’ll design what we want to do, and once we’ve defined that, I’ll talk about specific people.”

Benedito: “I have nothing to say about Abidal, other than I think he was unfairly treated by the board. The names will cover you... Don’t go behind Zubi’s or Txiki’s back, but the structure of the technical staff instead.”

Laporta: “Those who joined my candidacy share my way of seeing Barça. A style of play created by Cruyff, recognized all over the world.”

Benedito to Laporta: “I’ve been a Cruyffista my whole life, but you spend too much time talking about Cruyff.”

Freixa: “I agree with Laporta. We have turned La Masia into our university of football. We must admit that our rivals have passed us.”

Laporta: “Our basket project is exciting. We have to regain youth basketball, something that has not been worked on enough.”

Benedito: “I can’t safely say that Xavier Pascual is the basket coach next season. I have to talk to him to make the decision.”

Freixa: “We are very clear that we have to work with a technical committee who is responsible for scouting. Sporting decisions must be taken from the board of directors. Not only the president, but in a model with shared responsibility.”

Laporta to Freixa: “I didn't know Zubizarreta wasn’t a part of the board... Txiki Begiristain came to meetings regularly and gave reports.”

Probability:

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