Finally some good news in a bad week for Barça. President Josep Maria Bartomeu appeared an hour late for this afternoon’s press conference but then wasted no time in announcing that presidential elections will be brought forward by a year. Originally due for the summer of 2016 they will now take place at the end of the current season. Bartomeu stated he will stand in the elections and that they have been brought forward with the intention of stabilising the club and he called for fair play from the other candidates in order to maintain solidarity behind the team.
Bartomeu was also quizzed on the current situation with Leo Messi. First he stated he has spoken with both Luis Enrique and Messi, he denied that Messi had been punished for any indiscipline before insisting that the club is very happy with him and that “we are tranquilos over Messi”
No clear reason was given for the sacking of Andoni Zubizaretta though Bartomeu confirmed it was his own decision to let the sporting director go. He claimed it was not in response to Zubizaretta’s remarks after the defeat at Anoeta, stating there had been a general drop in confidence in Zubi’s work over recent weeks. There was no announcement of who will take over the job as the club is still looking for somebody. As for Carles Puyol, Bartomeu claimed that Puyol had advised him weeks ago that he intended to leave and therefore Puyol’s announcement yesterday had nothing to do with Zubizaretta.
On Zubizaretta I’d like to say I feel he was badly treated, both by the club and by a lot of fans. I’m not saying he did a fantastic job but under difficult circumstances he has always been honest and dignified. The problem for me has always been the interference from the board in signings, making it much more difficult to plan a balanced squad. We may never know who was most responsible for each of the signings over the last four and a half years, Guardiola had a lot of say while he was coach and Rosell was definitely involved in dictating a lot of transfer policy before he left twelve months ago. Individually some of the signings have looked very good but there has never been a clear direction in the rebuilding of the squad.
At last we can look forward to elections. Joan Laporta and Agusti Benedito seem likely to be the main candidates to face Bartomeu with Laporta looking like the early favourite to return to the presidency.