Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned along with the entire board of directors. Bartomeu’s decision comes after several months of criticism in the wake of Barcelona’s 8-2 Champions League elimination to Bayern Munich, as well as Lionel Messi’s shock request to leave the club shortly after.
By resigning, Bartomeu avoided becoming the first president to be kicked out by a vote of no confidence. Campaigners needed 66% of votes to get rid of him and estimations were 80% of the vote was against him.
Bartomeu was due to step down in March, having served the maximum two terms as president, but was facing a vote of no confidence after more than 20,000 club members signed a motion to remove him.
Resentment had grown against his leadership over the past year because of worsening finances and Barca’s decline on the pitch and their failure to win a trophy last season.
“It’s a thought-out, serene, informed decision” to resign, Bartomeu said in a televised speech.
“The easiest thing after the Champions [League defeat to Bayern Munich] was to resign, but one had to take decisions amid an unprecedented global crisis,” Bartomeu said, adding that later on, in the wake of the Messi spat, he could not let the club be run by external, temporary figures.
“Who would have ensured that Messi stayed? Who would have hired a new coach?” said Bartomeu, who took over at Barcelona from Sandro Rosell in 2014.
Bartomeu also fell out with star player Messi in the summer after the Argentina forward handed in a transfer request.
Messi failed to force a move and decided to stay, but said he felt deceived by Bartomeu, adding: “There has been no project or anything for a long time”.
During his time in charge, Barca won La Liga four times as well as the 2014-15 Champions League, but Bartomeu’s time in charge will largely be defined by the club’s failings in his final seasons.