20 years. 20 years passed since Leo Messi signed for FC Barcelona over a napkin. Furthermore, 16 years passes since Messi first entered the field for his first official match wearing a Blaugrana. However, even Leo Messi, the biggest Barcelona fan, got tired from the Bartomeu administration. Now the Argentinean wants to leave, and somehow our president keeps his job. In the end of the day, this battle between Bartomeu and Messi is starting to look dirty. But in that battle the real loses will be the Barcelona fans.
10 years is a long time. 10 years ago Rosell took over as the Barcelona president. His administration pretty much ruined every good thing that Laporta did before him. But he had Pep, Messi, Xavi, Puyol and Iniesta and others, so the Sporting project was there to make up for it. The club won the 2011 Champions League and looked unbeatable. But instead of taking this project and make it stronger, the club did everything to break this legacy. First, there was Pep who realized that he has nothing to do with this board, and left. And then, little by little, the Blaugrana lost every asset they had.
The Rosell administration was so bad that it got to the point that the club had to pay a fine for his violations. Therefore, Rosell resigned and Bartomeu took over. The team was in critical state, but yet again had Xavi, Iniesta and Messi to make up for it. Barcelona won the 2015 Champions League, and a month later Bartomeu easily won the elections. And the destruction continued.
Politics, Money and Power
FC Barcelona is a special club. Although it’s a huge organization, it’s still run by team members. But the problem is that as bigger as the team is getting, more powerful forces want to take control. And the majority of the fans are older people who read the newspapers, and don’t read information on social media. For them, having a successful club and paying less for the season tickets is enough. They don’t care about the values of the club, let alone the global fans that pay good money to come and see their team, or buy it’s merchandise. It’s form the Nunez blueprint for controlling the team.
Josep Lluis Nunez was the FC Barcelona president for more than 2 decades. In that time his administration was so powerful, that he actually had control over the biggest news outlets. That means that no matter how bad the team did, newspapers like Mundo Deportivo or Sport did not blame him and the board for anything. When the team did bad it was always the players and the coaches fault. Moreover, the board made the Socios more powerful, and both the socios and the board had a huge impact on the club. But for the club it wasn’t a good thing, and the team did not do a good job. Moreover, the board had a bad relationship with the players. How bad? So bad that the players did a rebellion in 1988, and in a press conference demanded the board to resign.
Management don’t score goals
After the players’ rebellion, 14 players left in a massive ‘cleaning’, while the newspapers slandered the players for their “betrayal”. In the meantime, there was no criticism directed to the board. But Nunez was a smart man, and he knew that signing club legends for key positions was important, so he signed Cruyff. In the next 8 years Barcelona became the ‘Dream Team’, and while the team did well, everything was fine between the board and the fans.
But just as we could see in the ‘Netflix’ series “The last dance”, the management can’t win matches. However, the board had so much power, that again every failure was directed to the coaches and the players.
The Cruyff team loses 4-0 in the Champions League finals? It’s Cruyff’s fault, and 2 years later the Dutch left.
Ronaldo leaves after one amazing season, because Nunez didn’t renew his contract? The Brazilian is the villain we should blame, and not the board.
In these crises, the newspapers didn’t point any finger towards the board, so they became invincible. And after Nunez retired, his vice-president, Gaspart, took over, and we started the dark era of the early 2000’s.
Gaspart was so bad, that even the socios knew that he had to go. And when he resigned in 2003, the team was in the 15th place at the table, 3 points above the relegation zone. That’s how bad the team was under that board. Moreover, people like Pep Guardiola had enough and left the club, and many club legends didn’t want nothing to do with the club.
Laporta to the rescue
It took a VERY special failure of the team to ‘un-Nunez’ the club. And Joan Laporta was there to take control over the bad situation of the club. But even is our wildest dream, we couldn’t imagine that his board would lead our club to such a big success. However, one of the things that Laporta did was making it easier for fans to become Socios and have a right to vote. He knew that this is the only way to make the Nunez lobby weaker. And that hurt him alone.
The old “Junta” of the Socios was there and just had to wait until the team won’t do well. But it took time, because the Ronaldinho-Deco team did great, winning the Champions League title in 2006, and overall looked great.
However, in the end of the bad 2007-8 season, a voice of no confidence almost made Laporta leave his office. Just think that if Laporta would have lost his chair in 2008, Pep would never get the job as the Barcelona coach, and we would never see this era born.
Pep Guardiola – The unwanted man
Pep Guardiola IS the FC Barcelona man that we love. Just like Cruyff, Xavi and Messi. He was an amazing captain, he is a legendary coach, and most of all he really believes in the club’s values. But he’s not a “Yes-Man” for the newspapers and the socios, so he received a lot of bad press in his times. Just some examples:
- In the 90’s Newspapers in Barcelona tried to say he was gay, because he always had a good sense for fashion.
- While he was in Brescia, Barcelona papers were the first to publish that Pep failed his drug test. That proved to be a wrong story.
- When Tito Vilanova was sick, the local newspapers said that Pep was angry at for replacing him as the coach. Moreover, they said that Pep didn’t visit him in the hospital.
In 2001 Pep had enough with the board, the Socios and the newspapers. When Laporta. However, in 2012 he left because he had enough with the Rosell – Bartonmeu administration. However, the older readers would not see anything about those reasons in the newspapers.
As Dani Alves once said – Barcelona should build a statue of Pep Guardiola in the Camp Nou. But when dirty politics run the club, you see good men like Pep leaving the club.
Bartomeu doing what Nunez did
Bartomeu doesn’t have the charisma of Rosell of Nunez, but he is just as smart and evil. He knows that having a good image is critical for the continuation of the board. Rosell started the era of destruction, and Bartomeu does a great job continuing his ways. Furthermore, Rosell made it tougher for people to become Socios, in a clear way to make the current Socios stronger. In that way, the younger people who read the independent news on social media, would have less influence.
Why does the newspapers support them? The strongest news media channels in Barcelona, MD, Sport, La Vanguardia and more, are all part of ‘Grupo Godo’. And Bartomeu and Rosell are part of the board in that group. That’s why no matter what happens, the newspapers would not have a critical word against the board.
That means that just like Nunez, Bartomeu has the power of the media, and the players and the coaches would take all the blame. Moreover, if the team would do a good job, Bartomeu will take credit for it. So when things go bad the problem is with the players and coaches, and when things are good we should thank the board.
And after the 8-2 Messi was in the front page again, and not one critical word was addressed to Bartomeu and his board.
The Bartomeu – Messi Battle
Just like pep back then, Messi is still in the FrontPage after every failure that the club is having in the last years. Since 2017, Leo talked several times about how he wants a successful project, and how money doesn’t bother him. And in the Corona break he and his teammates were there to cut 70% of their salaries. But meanwhile, Bartomeu and his board allegedly hired a company to smear Messi and other club legends. In that way the board wanted to have a better image than the club legends. That’s not really possible, because as we said before, the board can’t score goals.
But Bartomeu did a good job to keep his board alive, and he would prefer to sink and not resign. Moreover, he even did a trick by offering to leave the office in order to keep Leo. But knowing that him leaving would keep his board in control, Leo doesn’t want to stay anymore.
In that way, the media would say that Messi ruined his legacy by leaving when things were tough. And the ‘Saint Bartomeu’ even offered his head in order to keep him. And that would address the anger of the older fans towards him. Moreover, the fact that Messi would probably move to the team of Pep, would make life easier for the board. In the last days we hear all the time that Pep is in Barcelona, and he meets with Messi. So according to media, Pep is now the villain who led Messi to leave.
Maybe Bartomeu wanted Messi to leave all along?
The current financial situation of the club is a real mess. If Bartomeu would leave now, the next administration would chase him for pay from his own pocket. But what if the only way that this board would save themselves form paying from their own money is selling Leo?
Saving Messi’s enormous salary, and receiving a big income as well would be a short term cynical solution, which will be enough just until the board would change. However, repairing the club would be the job of the next president.
The next season is quite ruined before it even started. The preseason is about to start, and there are no changes currently (Except from players that we know about for few months now). So how should Koeman even succeed with this team? This broken team has few players that should not play with the team anymore. Really hope to see some changes in the next days.
Messi leaving marks the real End of an Era
It took a very special management for Leo Messi to leave the club, and it looks like ‘Mission accomplished’ for our board. Although Messi loves the club, loves life in Barcelona and his family is well settled there. But with 3-4 years left in his career, he doesn’t want to live with the current toxic environment leading the club.
And just like Bartomeu said himself a year ago, Leo Messi earned his right to decide when it’s time for him to stop his journey in Barcelona. It really is the end of an era, and these are very sad days for us Culers. But we should feel grateful to have had the privilege to enjoy these almost 2 great decades with Leo Messi.
Next, our focus should move for replacing this board ASAP, and replacing it with a board with a proper plan. Our club is in a critical condition, maybe the worst times since 2003. Therefore, we need a special board again to make everything right.
Club legends like Xavi, Iniesta and Messi SHOULD be part of our future. This board did everything in order to make it harder for them to stay. But it will be up to the Socios to select a better board for a better future.
Will our new president be a new ‘Laporta’ of a new ‘Gaspart’? Time will tell. But the most important thing now is to get the right people back to the club. Laporta did it with Cruyff and Txiki, Bayern and Juve doing it today, and we should return to this model. Boartomeu is doing it, but he does that in a cynical way. Now Koeman is the one doing the changes, and he will be the one to blame in a case of a failure.