Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo claims that Barcelona president Joan Laporta could step down as president a few months before the elections that will be held next year.
This would allow Barcelona first vice-president Alfons Godall (picture, right) to take over until the end of this board's term, which would put him in a better position ahead of the elections because it would give the fans the chance to get to know him and any title won would reflect well on him.
Stepping down could also allow Laporta to prepare his political career ahead of the Catalan regional elections that will also be held next year and in which Laporta might take part.
Godall wouldn't yet have definitely decided if he will run for president although he would be close to accept Laporta's demand to be a candidate to succeed him, especially if he could become president beforehand.
If the plan goes through, Laporta could step down during the winter break, right after the World Cup for Clubs in December.
Asked if there has been a discussion during this morning's board meeting on the continuity candidate in next year's elections, Barcelona president Joan Laporta has said at a press conference today that it's still too early to talk about the matter:
"We didn't talk about that at all. We are focusing on governing the club and there will be enough time later to talk about everything related to the elections. Now it's clear to us that we just want to do what is necesary for the team to have again a great season.
I understand that there's some excitement because the elections are coming up, but we will leave the issue for later. We'll take up our responsibility and then later on, the people who want to participate in the elections, will make a free, personal and intimate decision."
When one will look back in one year from now at Barcelona's presidential elections that will have been held earlier that year, it seems very likely that the decision of Barcelona chief executive Joan Oliver in March 2009 to order a detective agency to carry out an investigation regarding four Barcelona vice-presidents will be seen as a (and maybe as the) key moment.
When the discovery of the investigations by the four vice-presidents already made the choice of one continuity candidate very difficult, the public revealing of the affair now seems to have made it impossible that the current board will present one candidacy to the voters.
All media agree at this moment that there will most probably be two board members who will run for president: while Barcelona first vice-president Alfons Godall (or board member Xavier Sala i Martín) will be backed by current Barcelona president Joan Laporta, Barcelona marketing vice-president Jaume Ferrer would also be preparing a candidcay.
As a consecuence of that, the possibility that current board members will link up with board members who left the board since Laporta became president in 2003 would also have increased.
The race seems more open than ever.
this is the tenth and last part on the case. you can read the whole series here.
picture: barcelona chief executive joan oliver leaving the press conference during which he gave his version of the facts few hours after catalan newspaper "el periódico" published the story about the investigations on thursday 24 september 2009.
On Monday 21 September, Barcelona marketing vice-president Jaume Ferrer was the guest of honour of a so-called 'Pa i Tomàquet amb Tertúlia' session in a private apartment, owned by Catalan business man Josep Vilallonga, at the Passeig de Gràcia, the most prestigious avenue in Barcelona.
The 'Pa i Tomàquet' sessions are hosted by four prominent Catalan figures and are described as "a dinner-gathering, around a table, enjoying a 'pa amb tomàquet', in two services, and in good company with great wine. In those reunions we treat subjects of actuality and interest, with a Guest of Honour and [a number of] other persons, carefully selected. [The objective is to] meet and to debate about subjects of actuality and interest."
The sessions, that are organized since the year 2000, are named after the typical Catalan preparation 'pa amb tomàquet' (literally: 'bread with tomato'), that consists of bread - optionally toasted - with tomato rubbed over and seasoned with olive oil and salt.
At the 'Pa i Tomàquet' sessions, the guest of hounour can explicitly ask for confidentiality by using a sign that he has at his disposal and that has a phrase written on it that says "Que ningú no se'n recordi. I menys els periodistes"(Nobody shall remember this. And the journalists even less).
All attendants are informed at the start of the session that when this sign is shown, nobody will divulge nor publish whatever is said at that moment since it's considered to be said off-the-record. The same sign, framed into a design box, is also the gift that every guest of honour takes home as souvenir.
Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo reports that at one point during the session in which Ferrer took part, one of the journalists who were present asked the director if it was true that he had been investigated. After having raised the off-the-record sign, Ferrer confirmed this but played down the issue.
One of the people who attended the meeting was Rafael Nadal, director of Catalan newspaper El Periódico, that broke the news on the espionage affair a couple of days later, on Thursday 24 September. Nadal told El Mundo Deportivo that he didn't break the code of silence since the newspaper was already investigating the issue for two months.
A lot of people nevertheless think that the dinner was the key moment in the publication of the espionage story. The rumour was already running through Barcelona for a while, but this confirmation by Ferrer would have been the last piece of the puzzle.
The fact that it was El Periódico that revealed the investigations is seen by some as an attempt to hinder the political ambitions of Barcelona president Joan Laporta, also because Rafael Nadal, the director of El Periódico, is the brother of Joaquim Nadal, a minister in the Catalan government for the Socialists' Party of Catalonia.
this is the ninth of ten parts on the case. the next and last part will cover the fallout of the story. you can read the whole series here.
picture: on the first picture, jaume ferrer is the second man from the right. rafael nadal, director of catalan newspaper "el periódico", is the second man on ferrer's right hand side. on ferrer's left hand side, there's santi nolla, director of catalan sports paper "el mundo deportivo". and right in front of nolla, you have joan vehils, director of catalan sports paper "sport".
Speaking to Catalan sports paper Sport, Barcelona sports director Txiki Begiristain has said that the upcoming elections or the uncertainty of his position have no influence on the planification of next season:
"I don't know if I will continue but I'm working like I used to do before. Of course I am. In fact, Pep and I are already preparing for the 2010-2011 season. The football machine cannot stop."
This would prove that the audits weren't ordered by the club to protect the four vice-presidents, but to spy on them ahead of next year's elections. The reports would namely contain not one reference to the protection or the safety of the directors.
Below you find a summary of the audit report regarding Barcelona marketing vice-president Jaume Ferrer.
In the report there's a reference to the director's friendship with Josep Pujol Ferrusola, the son of former Catalan president Jordi Pujol, which is considered to be enough proof to state that Ferrer "has political and business ties" with the Pujol family. The report also points out that the vice-president had to start from scratch but that he now has "a considerable personal estate".
It is mentioned that Ferrer "is sued for criminal conversion and corporate offense in a case in which his former father-in-law - and owner of the company involved - accuses him of unfair competition by taking away clients and know how". The detective agency warns that the oral hearings didn't yet take place and that they are expected in the coming months, which could draw the attention of the press.
The report contains an extensive interview - Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia claims that it's three pages long - with the ex-father-in-law, who talked with people from the agency and told them he might inform Sandro Rosell and Ferran Soriano, two other presidential candidates, about the case.
The paper reports that Ferrer now claims that the dispute has in the meantime already been solved. Catalan sports paper El Mundo Deportivo, that reports that the conclusions of the Ferrer report counts only 15 lines, claims that the case has already been filed by a judge and that an appeal is now still hanging at the Supreme Court, that would be handling the last formalities before filing the case definitely because it's not based on real events.
this is the eigth of ten parts on the case. the next part will cover the key moment in the revealing of the story. you can read the whole series here.
Spanish news agency EFE claims that a new Catalan sports paper will be launched in January.
A source of the new project reportedly confirmed that former sports paper Dicen..., that definitely stopped in the mid-1980s, would now reappear and become the fourth Catalan sports paper, besides Sport, El Mundo Deportivo and El 9 Esportiu.
A Spanish investment group would have bought the rights on the title and plans to start the paper next year after having prepared the re-launch for two years. The plan is to start with a group of 30 journalists and they are at this moment negotiating the appointment of an editor-in-chief.
The new paper would cost 0,60 euros and socios of Barcelona would get a free suscription for the first three months. The source assured that the re-launch of Dicen... isn't directly linked with the upcoming presidential elections and that the club nor any of the presidential candidates are behind it.
This blog has been in contact with the journalist who wrote the story for EFE. It was confirmed to us that one of the key men behind the project is Ángel Blanco, who owned the rights on Dicen... for a few years and who was the editor-in-chief of the free Spanish sports paper El crack 10, that was stopped in 2006.
The plan would be to gain momentum with the presidential elections coming up next year, although Blanco denies to be linked to one of the presidential candidates and says that their pages will be open to all candidates.
Our source thinks that it's indeed not likely that a candidate would be behind this, although there could be doubts on the project that doesn't seem to be very concrete at the moment, despite the fact that an editor-in-chief would in the meantime have been chosen.