We have a president, and he is ours … ALL of ours

“How could he win, after everything that we have done?”

The screams of a segment of the populace for whom electing this … man as president was something inconceivable, suddenly had to confront a grim reality that for years, seemingly endless years, a man who they not only didn’t vote for but who they actively detest, will be president. President of all of them, even if he isn’t their choice and never would be.

Yeah, it was pretty weird when Barack Obama won that second term in office as president of the United States. There were people who claimed, who honestly believed that they had him cold, had evidence of his various misdeeds, that surely a thinking electorate would see these things and vote the bum out. The talk shows blared, and many considered him the worst president EVAH, in the history of presidents.

And yet he won that second term comfortably, and a segment of the populace had to realize that things were different, before they were better or worse, conditions that depended upon who was asked. Which brings us to Josep Bartomeu, the new and justly elected president of FC Barcelona.

There is a segment of Barça Twitter that finds this appalling, that thinks the stadium and club will become wholly owned subsidiaries of Qatar, who believe that our youth players will be auctioned off to the highest bidder as the first team never again sees a talented young’un crack that exalted roster. Messi will leave, the crops will wither and die and the wells will be salted. Panic.

Yet there are culers, and there are socis, sometimes both in the same person. Those socis voted overwhelmingly for Bartomeu. People can talk about how 10k fewer votes were cast so even though he won by a significant percentage, look at the raw numbers. Succor can be sought there. But the raw numbers say that even with the total votes of Laporta, Benedito and Freixa combined, Bartomeu would still have won, which means what, exactly?

Let’s start with one of the more unsettling qualities that we have seen so much this past season, hysteria. It’s human nature to imagine the worst. It’s also human nature to be outraged when something doesn’t go the way that you think it should. Kids throw their toys out of the pram, and culers scream and have a high-quality tantrum in various aspects of social media. “If you can’t see what is about to happen, why this president is evil, you’re stupid.”

Socis who voted are called blind, xenophobic fools who are ignorant of what is best for their club, and on it goes. But just as it is when Americans spout stuff about the sitting president, it’s worth asking how much of the ire, the gloom and doom, exists in reality and how much exists in that psychic space where only the worst can happen.

“He’s not our president.”

Yes, he is. If you support and love Barça, then Bartomeu is your president, too. That you didn’t vote for him is immaterial. He’s your president, because the democratic process worked itself out and the electorate chose.

Is that electorate stupid, misguided and all of the things they are being accused of in various corners of social media? Again, it depends on whom you ask. I recall meeting a pair of socis from the Barcelona region, who visited the Chicago Penya. I ranted and railed about Rosell and the board, and all of their acts of evil, and the two socis said, in effect, “Huh? What? We like what they are doing to save the club.” And that was that.

Those socis were a splash of cold water to the face because they made me realize a lot of things, from the silliness of hashtag activism to the fact that these socis were perfectly fine with a board that I suggested is the living, breathing epitome of Hell. What they were seeing, how their needs were being met by that entity, were entirely different from mine. And even as I wondered whether these socis actually cared about the club, the reality is that such a notion doesn’t matter. Everyone has something that they need, something that they believe, and they bring that to an election.

There are people who still believe that a sitting American president isn’t a U.S. citizen, that he is a Muslim and a Socialist. That’s what hysteria, and rage over an event that didn’t go their way, does to people. It’s ideology, which is nasty and pervasive, and skews opinions just as completely as ideologues say that various Catalan media skew opinion.

And then we get sage opinions, as people attempt to explain exactly why that electorate was stupid and misguided. One of the biggest is identity politics, the exclusionary nature of being a soci and how that affected the outcome of an election. This is easy to cling to, because one of the more rank acts that the Rosell board did was to close membership, except via a 3-year Commitment Card, renewable annually in person, and at the end of that process they might decide to let you become a soci. No guarantees.

Controlling membership rolls means controlling the message, means controlling the electorate, means only getting old, sated, dimwitted socis voting who only care about the final score. And yet, some 97% of socis are in or near Barcelona. This was true even before the membership rolls were closed. Barça has always been a local thang, and those locals know what they want.

Soci numbers grew under Laporta, and declined under Rosell, as would be expected when membership is closed. But this election wasn’t about identity politics or any of the other stuff that people like to think might or might not have happened. This election was about results, on the pitch and in the boardroom. Locals puff out their chests with pride at a championship team, stick them out a bit more at the idea that their club can buy pretty much any player it likes in Europe. The idea of a new stadium fills them with pride, as again the Camp Nou represents different things to different people. To some it’s a hallowed ground. To others it’s a musty, rickety old entity that doesn’t suit the bold, new Catalunya that wants to be an independent world player on the big stage. Again, it all depends.

It’s intellectually lazy to stomp our feet and say that all those socis who voted Bartomeu in care about is the treble, that they don’t care about the rest of the club. That’s easy to say, even as we have absolutely zero idea whether that is true. “All they care about is their season tickets,” is another one that we hear. We don’t know that, either. But in our carefully curated social media worlds, filled with people who think as we do, it’s easy to forget that not everybody thinks and feels like that. We are ALL culers, some of us are socis and we all matter.

People can parse, and rant, and rave all they like but what I do know is that there has never, EVER been a more important time for culers and socis to pull together than this. My views on the Rosell board are well known. What I don’t yet know is if Bartomeu will be more of the same, or if the guy who served as president, who seems interested in doing the right things for the club and its teams, will get his act together, pick the right people to run La Masia, stop the crumbling of the other sports and make Barça a full and complete club at ALL levels of sport.

I have to believe this, I have to have hope in this because the future is too bleak to contemplate. The poor Masia management could continue, the 600m stadium project could cost twice that, and turn Barça into a club that is hamstrung by crushing debt, with a stagnating football team and other sports that might as well go away, a frozen membership buttressing a mess of a club. If you don’t expect, hope for the best from someone, why get out of bed in the morning? The world is just going to kick me in the face. I’ll just stay here.

People have asked what Bartomeu has done wrong since he was president. I asked those very questions. Everything that he inherited was already in process, including the poor management at La Masia and a succession of practice dummies coaching the B team. I am willing to give him the chance to fix it before I excoriate and dismiss him as just another in a string of recent lousy Barça presidents.

Laporta ran a crap campaign. Sorry, but he did. Whispering about the past isn’t going to do it for an electorate who was tired of his crap in the first place, even as he would still be president had the term limits not forced him to step down. It takes a LOT for an incumbent to be ousted. And for all of the hope people had that Laporta would be the man to oust Bartomeu, King Joan got run over by a machine.

It wasn’t just the treble. Laporta didn’t give people a reason to vote for him, except that he wasn’t Bartomeu. That isn’t enough. As I said in a previous piece, he and Bartomeu are two of mostly the same thing, only Bartomeu is potentially worse. But he might also be potentially better. With Laporta, you knew what you were going to get, and socis didn’t want that. Conservative voters will always vote for the success that they have, and that success was embodied in Josep Bartomeu. It’s as simple as that.

I don’t know what is going to happen with this presidency. Giving a man who sat at the right hand of Rosell, who has many of the same board members, a 6-year mandate scares the crap out of me as a soci who loves his football club. But at this point in time, my choice is clear: give the man a chance. I will not rant, I will not scream, I will not throw my toys out of the pram in an effort to display my righteous indignation over a poor presidential choice. This isn’t the time for that.

To my view, it’s the time to be calm, measured and look at all aspects of what might happen. Bartomeu might turn out to be an excellent president, who jettisons a sponsor that so many take issue with (my issue is that we have any sponsor. I don’t have time to parse them.), fix La Masia’s management and tighten up the other sports, who understands that a strong Barça doesn’t just mean the first team at the football club.

It’s easy to assume that he is going to be a rank despot who will kill the club, selling its soul a chunk at a time. It’s easy because it’s seductive. The hashtag activism, ranting and bullying carry the day in some aspects. The question is, has anything been learned from #luchoout.

Meanwhile in other worlds, where people don’t even have Twitter much less care about it and their social media is dinner at a local restaurant or drinks at the local pub, socis are nodding their heads in satisfaction that their man won. That man is our president. We owe it to the club that we love and the players we follow the exploits of to, simply put, be cool. The future will come when it does. For now, let’s watch, wait and hope because sometimes, hope is all that you have.

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In my fantasy life, I’m a Barca-crazed contributor over at Barcelona Football Blog. In my real life, I’m a full-time journalist at the Chicago Tribune, based in Chicago, Illinois.

44 Comments

  1. barca96
    July 19, 2015

    What does this puppet do on the 1st day?

    head of La Masia, Jordi Roura who is in charge for selecting Barça B coach wanted Juvenil A coach Pimienta, Bartomeu ignored

    I read that Lucho also wanted this experienced coach. Same as Oscar Garcia who should’ve gotten the job and then Vinalys who should’ve gotten it. He got it in the end but midway through a terrible season. Not exactly a good way to start a job.

    I liked Gerard at Valencia. Wasn’t a success when he came back here and just fell of the radar. Not sure if he has any (successful) coaching experience to get this gig besides the part time job of coaching Catalunya. The job should’ve gone to a coach within the club itself imo. Pep was a special case.

    Rosell/Barto seem to like to hire ex-players (Gerard was with us when they were part of Laporta and Eusebio was an ex-player too) instead of coaches within the club who already know the coaching style.

    I get a feeling that Barto won’t change for the better but he will feel complacency due to the huge win. Some of the changes that he will make will be because of the response his opponents got (Qatar for example) and he will just try to incorporate them since he doesn’t have a good idea himself.

  2. luisthebeast
    July 19, 2015

    They say that the older socis voted Bartomeu.People that are 60y old +.People who were socis in 70s and 80s and our club won la liga every 10 year.So yes i respect them more because they were with the club in the most difficult moments.And now they just want trophies.I am tired of the whining about La Masia and all that.We won the treble and i am still so happy and i want more trophies.If the youths are not good enough we can buy the best players.And in U.S.A the squad is full of masia so can we please stop the whining?

  3. luisthebeast
    July 19, 2015

    And the treble was all thanks to Bartomeu.He hired lucho,he buyed suarez raki and all.So he dererves to be the next pres.As long the club make more money and win trophies i am ok.I dont care where the money comes and who is barca b coach.

    • barca96
      July 19, 2015

      The president only signs the cheques. Signings should be credited to the manager and sporting director which in this case is Zubi.

      Only credit I give him for is sticking with Lucho. And the rest is history.

      But just because someone is partly successful you forget about his misdoings.

    • July 20, 2015

      But just because someone is partly successful you forget about his misdoings.

      Which basically defines Laporta.

      Since we’re talking about success:

      Laporta’s presidency in 7 years saw 2 Champions Leagues, 4 Ligas, 1 Copa del Rey, 1 Club World Cup and 1 European Supercup, a Treble and a Double.
      It also saw two seasons in a row with no trophies.

      “Bartosell” presidency in 5 years has seen 2 Champions Leagues, 3 Liga, 2 Copa del Rey, 1 Treble, 1 Double, 1 Club World Cup and 1 European Supercup, with the possibility to increase those by one each by the end of the season.
      One season without trophies, but here’s the rub:

      Yes, this Barcelona’s success was enabled by the success of the previous one. However, it has had to contend domestically with a resurgent Atletico and both domestically and in Europe with a Real Madrid with a stung pride, bottomless wallet and governmental and media assistance and support.

      All this while managing to lower the debt overall, practically dissolve the bank debt incurred by Laporta in his last days of office, despite facing frozen levels of income from stadium and TV contracts.

    • barca96
      July 20, 2015

      Our debt increased and it was discussed to great lengths in the past how Rosell made the situation look worse than it actually is. Scare tactic.

      Also when they got into power, they were on witch hunt for Laporta. So why is it any different when Laporta attacks them now, with facts.

    • Le_nies_vi
      July 20, 2015

      Financial strength nearly equates to squad strength. look at AC Milan. Of course, how one achieves financial stability is of concern. There is a thin line between acts that lie within limits of values the club stands out for and those that transgress the same.

      The first question is: Is it only Qatar that we want out of our shirt? or, Is it okay if we have a respectable brand on our shirt? or, No, nothing but UNICEF?

      Many would choose between the security of number two or the “more than monetary -Value” of number three. Despite popular opinion, it would be harsh to criticize Bartomeu because he was on the board that went for Qatar. Now that he’s president his actions are to be scrutinized as being towards the betterment of the club or not.

      To state that Laporta as a more responsible and respectable figure is baseless. Bartomeu has to be given a chance. Laporta has lost his. To me, he is a liar, no more.

    • July 20, 2015

      This is an answer to barça96’s comment about the debt

      I suppose that would be the Swiss Rambler?

      I have a problem with that blog, since it mixes apples and oranges. There are many ways to define “debt” and those definitions can be veeery flexible. I don’t have the time to go to a great length, but the definition of UEFA, Real, The Swiss Ramble, Arsenal&United, Laporta and Rosell don’t coincide. The Swiss Rambler suspects that some of the debt is “total liabilities”. He told his readers what could be considered “total liabilities” for different accounting purposes, but he had no real basis to decide whether some of that debt was real debt or was part of the normal day-to-day operation of the club.
      And even in those different definitions there are different types of debt.

      For Rosell and Bartomeu, and the Managing board, net debt is defined as (money in the bank + money owed TO the club) minus (money owed to the bank, money owed to different entities for services rendered and money owed to other clubs for players)

      Basically, under this definition if you have to pay for it and you haven’t, it’s debt. Money owed is debt. It could also be debt, even if it has already been paid for, in case UEFA for example says that it has to be counted like that.

      *a shortcut to explain this*
      When a player is bought, his transfer fee is divided by the years of his initial contract and that sum is considered as new debt. Every year a part of that sum is ‘paid’ until at the end of the initial contract the player becomes “free” and at cost 0. This annual sum is the amortization cost of the player. For Barça those costs are often the real chunks of money, because the club often pays in parts. But for accounting reasons those transfers are considered debt and they have to be written down as such. On the other hand, when a club sells a player, it writes down the complete sum as income, minus any remaining amortization costs.

      And this is also what the majority of this new “increased debt” actually is. Again we clash with the subjective bias of the articles that have ulterior motives. Many articles didn’t explain it, because “debt on the rise” is easier to swallow and made for a bigger bat to beat Nobita/Bartosell/Cancerous leeches/slimy bastards who won the vote.

      Yes, the net debt increased. Barcelona bought players worth more than 100m Euro, so the debt was bound to increase However, in some cases, that “debt” is already paid or is being paid in bigger chunks than the amortization costs actually are. That debt is different from the bank loan payments the club has to pay every year. I haven’t checked but judging from the last season’s report, that debt is still going down, with a steady temp.

      So yes, this “our debt increased” is also a scare tactic.

      As for the witch hunt against Laporta, I was following the case, and the judge verified Barcelona’s accounts. In their fullness. Then the judge decided that various items could not be counted for one or other reason.

      The final verdict, currently appealed by Barça, was the Laporta left the club 4m richer. What the pundits and authors screaming about the witch hunt against the Man of The People often forgot to add, because it slipped their mind probably (what other reason could they have to forget adding it?) is that those 4 millions were over the SEVEN YEARS of Laporta’s regime.

      The judge arrived at the figure after adding the profit from the earlier lean years, which compensated the LOSSES incurred in the last year, which losses were the reason for the so-called witch hunt. BTW, when we talk about those profits, it has to be mentioned that one reason those profits were counted was because since 2005 sums which were to be transferred to Sogecable due to European performance of the club’s teams, weren’t. This was the reason why the club was taken to court in 2007 and lost it both in first and second level, both times the judge ordering Barça to pay Sogecable’ heir 54m Euro (which weren’t paid). It was in 2011 when the case was settled out of court, incurring losses to Barça, albeit lower ones than the 54m initially ordered.

      For comparison, the 5 years of Rosell and Bartomeu have ended with profits of 131 million Euro. Now chew on that for a bit.

  4. Fabian4Barca
    July 20, 2015

    This is odd, I thought I read a farewell post about this Kxevin just a couple of weeks ago. scnr 😉

    Thanks for yet another informative article. I don’t even need to read professional media to stay up to date about Barça. Actually, I wouldn’t even know any German magazines or newspapers which could ever reach the level of BFB.

    In my opinion, it’s almost always better to have stability in a management. New presidents/managers always want to make their mark and often this means that they change something that was already good before, just to have changed something.

  5. Davour
    July 20, 2015

    Let’s hope this man, who has been trying to do “the right things” will keep on doing this, even with this mandate – meaning listening to others, being sensitive to needs AND traditions, being pragmatic AND visionary, etc. It is a difficult job. Still, I can’t shake that feeling of discomfort that stems from Bartomeu’s likeness to Gus Fring of Breaking Bad…

  6. July 20, 2015

    I’m not going to be able to post until the evening, though I REALLY wanted to do so, extensively.

    I’ll leave you with an article you should read. I mean you must read. You must read it, because it asks the questions many of Laporta’s supporters were asking themselves, deep down, but unwilling to face the answers or ask the questions aloud, fearing the big brush with the “Board fanboy” paint dripping from it. You should read this article. Then you should (if your Catalan or Spanish is good enough to understand it) listen to the interview with the good professor (who by the way is an Espanyol fan, imagine that 😀 )

    I’ll leave my own thoughts for later. Here’s the article:

    http://www.barcablaugranes.com/2015/7/19/8999121/why-josep-maria-bartomeu-deserved-to-win-the-fc-barcelona-elections

    • barca96
      July 20, 2015

      And what was Bartomeu’s great manifesto during elections? He didn’t come up with any bright ideas.

      The article only attacked Laporta, not highlighting Bartomeu’s achievements or plans for the future. Now let’s look at an article attacking Bartosell;
      http://grup14.com/article/why-i-won-t-vote-for-bartomeu

    • Jim
      July 20, 2015

      Well, without knowing too much about the ins and outs of their manifestos, Barto has at least just won the treble, renewed all the players we needed to and signed the players LE wanted. We’re set for next season. He is also looking to renovate the stadium, has said that unless Qatar is the best offer for the shirt it won’t be renewed and to be honest has looked the part to me since he took over. Although I don’t dislike Laporta at all, his campaign to me seemed desperate with the selection of Abidal and trying to imply Messi would be returning to vote for him. Beyond that, I’m not sure what his plans were so can’t comment.

      Still, at least it’s all over now and hopefully we can settle down and support the club in all its forms.

    • barca96
      July 20, 2015

      Well Laporta’s plans are pretty clear to me. Just the same as how it was a decade ago.

      Just to make it clear, this is not directed to you just in case. A lot of fans elsewhere on the internet I see saying don’t know how Laporta will run the club and all, I guess they weren’t around in 2003-2010.

      I was relieved when Barto said he will look into Rakuten. However yesterday it appeared that there is clause saying that Qatar will continue if they match the offer. Of course Barto didn’t say this during the campaigning.

      And news just came in, it seems that Qatar is here to stay and Rakuten is only interested in sponsoring the training jersey. Lies after lies after lies.

      Did you know that he said he doesn’t know what Braida was doing in Italy?! Obviously he know but he’s trying to save face as Braida failed to convince Pogba and Mino Raiola. He could’ve said that Lucho didn’t want Pogba but he is smart not to offence Lucho so he acted stupid and lied, once again.

      Ramzi on Twitter is saying that we should toughen up as we had times when we lost Figo/Ronaldo, had to qualify for CL. But those scenarios can be solved within a year by buying new players and improving the squad. Now we’re talking about 6 years of mismanagement.

      If we weren’t lucky enough to have some of these exceptional players, the club would be in deep trouble by now due to mismanagement. We’re losing popularity due to Qatar and business as a whole. Only thing we got going are the players.

  7. Le_nies_vi
    July 20, 2015

    It’s the club I love. Not the players, not the jersey. Not what it represents. Not because it is mes que un club. Not it’s style. Not the philosophy. Not it’s values. Not Messi.

    There’s no need to
    Com-pli-cate
    Our time is short
    This is our fate

    Yes, you begin loving the club because of star players or star teams or simply you connect to something amazing. And as you evolve, you pride in the history, the culture, the philosophy, the style. But as as you evolve further, you love the club. You don’t care about presidents. You just love the club and it’s sport.

  8. July 20, 2015

    So more than half the number of socios dont vote? Is this normal.

    • barca96
      July 20, 2015

      I found it strange too foto but I did remember seeing a stat somewhere on Twitter, from Euler IIRC, the number of voters were more or less the same in 2010. So yeah, I also wonder if this is the norm. Quite strange.

      Ok, take into account that there are a lot of kids who are alraedy socis but definitely not 50%. The kids from 2010 would’ve been 5 years older now so the teens could’ve definitely voted by now.

      Come to think of it, if Rosell didn’t close up the soci membership in 2010, the count would’ve been much higher considering our popularity since 2006. The number of socis would’ve risen. So perhaps there was a hidden reason why Rosell didn’t want to expand the membership as we become more popular, more younger fans, more younger fans = more well informed fans, who would vote against them.

      And with Bartomeu getting most of the votes from the >60 year olds, it’s hard to dismiss my theory.

    • Huckleberry
      July 20, 2015

      Why should a Catalan sozi be less informed or concerned about his beloved club in his own town and county than someone being thousands of miles away with no connection to this town and county and having only internet for information?

    • Jim
      July 20, 2015

      Don’t worry. I don’t take much personally and nothing that doesn’t have my name in it. 🙂

      However, I’m not sure that’s not a huge sweeping statement, Barca. Are you saying youngsters are more sensible and well informed than older people ? Wow, just wow !

      I’ll take your word for it that we are losing popularity although I’m not sure what you base that on. I see more Barca shirts over here than ever before. Even around a third of my Monday night football oldies have some kind of Barca kit. I used to be the only one. Now the youngsters accuse me of jumping on the bandwagon ! Not a single mention of Qatar so far. It’s just not an issue for most folk across here, other than maybe the fact the tartan army won’t be able to afford to get over there – and may have another problem in achieving the copious amounts of drinking that goes with any overseas journey.

      Anyway, you’ll need to get over it soon. The new season is only a few weeks away ! I think I also read that Barto wants Cruyff, Puyol and Abidal back into the fold which is quite reassuring for me – and more than generous of him. Laporta is finished and we need to move on and look at what needs to be done to move the club forward. To me that means getting the first team right on the pitch, improving the stadium, getting someone decent in to run La Masia and keeping the finances healthy.

    • Le_nies_vi
      July 20, 2015

      barca96 and his crazy *conspiracy* theories. Wow. When you hate a person so much, there’s so less beauty left to admire, the beauty of football and amazing talent.

      Let’s stop focusing on what’s behind the curtain. Of course, we need to be aware. But begrudging premonitions lead to nothing. I simply don’t understand people who fail to acknowledge democratic victory.

      Democratic victory = more people are for the victor than those against. simply, they deserve to win. yes, you’re against it, but you need to wait and keep your mouth shut at least until the victor resumes his duties. Then, you begin criticizing. This is almost like Barto’s first term.

      I stand positive. And happy

    • July 21, 2015

      There are no conspiracy theories friend. All the issues with Rossell and co were discussed here for all. Most must be kind of fed up of talking about it again.

    • Le_nies_vi
      July 21, 2015

      Exactly my point. Bartomeu deserves a chance. He was part of Rossell & Co. Now he isn’t. He deserves a chance to display his leadership skills. Being an executive President is far different from being a director or member of a committee. Now he’s the one to roll the die, and play the game.

  9. K_legit in Oz
    July 20, 2015

    …And it looks like I won’t get to be a soci for a while. Again.

  10. BA
    July 20, 2015

    Bartomeu is the president the at-home socis deserve: exclusive rather than inclusive, corporate sellout, Galactico-building rather than youth-developing. Mes que un club for the 21st century is dead with this vote, as is the strong leftist movement among Barça supporters since the 30’s. with Bartomeu we’ll never recover the shirt sponsorship, will lose the naming rights to the stadium, will spend big and advertise bigger. our revenue will go up, we’ll win some more trophies (until Messi retires), but we’ll lose the soul of the club. the difference between ourselves and Chelsea or PSG have already dwindled under Rosell and Bartomeu’s tenures, soon they’ll evaporate almost entirely. most of the socis who voted for Bartomeu won’t live to see it, but the younger and international supporters of the club might still someday remember that it once had integrity or stood apart from the other big names in European football.

    Laporta ran a joke of a campaign, didn’t do enough to convince the voter base restricted by Rosell and on those merits deserved to lose. but in the end the biggest losers are the club and its supporters.

  11. July 20, 2015

    Some people around here don’t realize that Laporta has faced stiff criticism since 2008.

    Back in 2008 the socis went to the voting booths for the vote of no confidence and 23870 voted against Laporta. The “No” vote fell short by about 2300 votes.

    Then in 2010 Laporta, unable to present himself for the elections, supported Jaume Ferrer. Rosell won the vote with a landslide, and Jaume Ferrer was the last candidate with 6168 votes.

    In these elections we already know that Bartomeu got 25823 votes, whereas Laporta got 15k, close to 10 500 fewer votes.

    It’s illustrative and should’ve been an eye-opener, but the same people calling the older voting socis “sociosaurs” (you know who you are, take a bow), “walking coffins” and “uninformed people who don’t love the club like the cruijffistas do and who should rot in hell or drop dead soon”, these same people turned out to be with an even greater tunnel vision.

    It’s beyond me how some person from the other side of the world can deduct that socis who have been socis since the day they were born, who have been paying their dues since before Cruyjff began kicking a ball, who have seen the club through thick and mostly thin, through a beligerent authoritarian regime and democracy, that these socis don’t love the club the way those supporters of Laporta do. It’s despicable.

    You think you are the informed ones, because you get your information translated into English from Catalan and Spanish and in English(who get it from mostly Catalan and Spanish sources) from a variety of sources.

    Those people are on the ground so to say. They don’t just have to rely on the propaganda of Grupo Godo’s media. There are other sources, radio, TV, printed media, which we see only refracted through the lens of the translator. Stuff can be lost in translation, can be deliberately omitted in translation, because the authors of those articles and the people who translate them can have ulterior motives and a certain bias. Have you thought that the English sources we read are at least one degree of separation from the actual stuff?

    Have you thought about the fact that while for us here the bias and propaganda of Mundo Deportivo is known, since we were told by Lucas Resende and the others that it was so, we have no friggin’ clue about the bias of the other media, the ones not controlled by Godo? Have you considered that such bias may exist?
    Have you thought that for the people on the ground that bias may be known and accounted for?
    Have you thought that the people on the ground can receive information, rumours from people on the inside, people who actually work for Barça in some capacity, information which is unknown to us because it’s transmitted by non-electronic media?

  12. July 20, 2015

    This is an answer to barça96’s comment about the debt

    I suppose that would be the Swiss Rambler?

    I have a problem with that blog, since it mixes apples and oranges. There are many ways to define “debt” and those definitions can be veeery flexible. I don’t have the time to go to a great length, but the definition of UEFA, Real, The Swiss Ramble, Arsenal&United, Laporta and Rosell don’t coincide. The Swiss Rambler suspects that some of the debt is “total liabilities”. He told his readers what could be considered “total liabilities” for different accounting purposes, but he had no real basis to decide whether some of that debt was real debt or was part of the normal day-to-day operation of the club.
    And even in those different definitions there are different types of debt.

    For Rosell and Bartomeu, and the Managing board, net debt is defined as (money in the bank + money owed TO the club) minus (money owed to the bank, money owed to different entities for services rendered and money owed to other clubs for players)

    Basically, under this definition if you have to pay for it and you haven’t, it’s debt. Money owed is debt. It could also be debt, even if it has already been paid for, in case UEFA for example says that it has to be counted like that.

    *a shortcut to explain this*
    When a player is bought, his transfer fee is divided by the years of his initial contract and that sum is considered as new debt. Every year a part of that sum is ‘paid’ until at the end of the initial contract the player becomes “free” and at cost 0. This annual sum is the amortization cost of the player. For Barça those costs are often the real chunks of money, because the club often pays in parts. But for accounting reasons those transfers are considered debt and they have to be written down as such. On the other hand, when a club sells a player, it writes down the complete sum as income, minus any remaining amortization costs.

    And this is also what the majority of this new “increased debt” actually is. Again we clash with the subjective bias of the articles that have ulterior motives. Many articles didn’t explain it, because “debt on the rise” is easier to swallow and made for a bigger bat to beat Nobita/Bartosell/Cancerous leeches/slimy bastards who won the vote.

    Yes, the net debt increased. Barcelona bought players worth more than 100m Euro, so the debt was bound to increase However, in some cases, that “debt” is already paid or is being paid in bigger chunks than the amortization costs actually are. That debt is different from the bank loan payments the club has to pay every year. I haven’t checked but judging from the last season’s report, that debt is still going down, with a steady temp.

    So yes, this “our debt increased” is also a scare tactic.

    As for the witch hunt against Laporta, I was following the case, and the judge verified Barcelona’s accounts. In their fullness. Then the judge decided that various items could not be counted for one or other reason.

    The final verdict, currently appealed by Barça, was the Laporta left the club 4m richer. What the pundits and authors screaming about the witch hunt against the Man of The People often forgot to add, because it slipped their mind probably (what other reason could they have to forget adding it?) is that those 4 millions were over the SEVEN YEARS of Laporta’s regime.

    The judge arrived at the figure after adding the profit from the earlier lean years, which compensated the LOSSES incurred in the last year, which losses were the reason for the so-called witch hunt. BTW, when we talk about those profits, it has to be mentioned that one reason those profits were counted was because since 2005 sums which were to be transferred to Sogecable due to European performance of the club’s teams, weren’t. This was the reason why the club was taken to court in 2007 and lost it both in first and second level, both times the judge ordering Barça to pay Sogecable’ heir 54m Euro (which weren’t paid). It was in 2011 when the case was settled out of court, incurring losses to Barça, albeit lower ones than the 54m initially ordered.

    For comparison, the 5 years of Rosell and Bartomeu have ended with profits of 131 million Euro. Now chew on that for a bit.

  13. July 20, 2015

    Speaking about bias, look at basically every article that criticizes the financials of the club.

    What you will see are the graphs which show the income of the club and how it has stalled or even regressed in some way. For some reason those graphs end in July 2014. I had to check my clock right now, and it informed me I have to get up in 4 hours, but it also told me where almost at the end of July 2015 So why aren’t the graphs about the financials showing the fact the club broke the 600m Euro barrier? Why they don’t show the context?

    First, because it breaks the narrative of the club’s financials being effin’ terrible and plateued.

    Second, because it requires explanation and that explanation may not be in favor of the message needed to be transmitted.

    Here’s some of the context.

    1. Season ticket prices have been frozen since 2010, incremented to keep up with inflation, but nothing more.

    2. The club is routinely reaching the end rounds of all three competitions for years now, which means that the revenue from those have plateaued. You can’t win the CL two times in the same season. The new prize and media market pools will increase it, but success has a downside as well. Lack of growth, because growth can be achieved only by extraordinary feats like the Treble and additional prize money, from tours, Supercups and Club World Cups.

    3. Current TV contract of 140m was signed years ago. It’s frozen and until the collective deal of the TV rights of La Liga and Liga Adelante sells for double of the current levels, it will stay the same 140m. It cannot increase.

    4. The only ways to grow in that scenario remain new and more sponsors and renegotiated current contracts.

    5. Growth is mostly arithmetical progression. When the club’s ordinary revenue was 300m, an additional income of 30m was 10%, but now that the club has reached 600m, the same 30m growth is just 5%. But it’s still 30 million, and even with inflation and hyperblown transfer fees, it’s 30 million.

    6. When Rosell and now Bartomeu came to power, Spain and the world were already in the grips of the greatest global recession since the Great Depression back in the 1930s. Most of you are not from Spain, so you can’t really know what happened. Since Spain is a major tourist destination, the effect was felt later and much more stronger than say in Germany or England. The first two years of the Recession were more or less bearable, because the thousands of laid-off workers could rely on their severance payments and the government-issued jobless payments(basically for every year worked you get 4 monthly payments of 70% of your bruto salary: it capped at 3 years of benefits, later 2.) When those sources dried up, lots of people had problems paying rent, nevermind buying 70-Euro jerseys, monthly payments to Canal+ or 100€ tickets for the better matches.

    And Barça’s revenue plateaued. The only way to increase it under the circumstances (because Barcelona had to fight with the financial power of the most Galacticoed Real, EPL clubs strengthened by gigantic TV contracts and new rich French and English clubs powered by billionaires mostly from the Middle East) was by signing sponsorship agreements and many of them.

    Of course, when that happened, the purists began screaming about club losing its soul and being sold off piece by piece to the highest bidder. At the same time, many of those purists were screaming that Barça must have the best and best paid players. Exactly how this is supposed to happen, the culerada in the grips of righteous wrath against the accountants, who were trying to put a price ticket on identity and essence, did not answer.

    And now the club has broken the 600m barrier. 608 million, to be precise, but what’s 1.3 Deulofeu between friends?

    • Le_nies_vi
      July 20, 2015

      As a finance professional and a chartered accountant, I love numbers because in a broader context they are honest. Thanks.

    • stefan2k
      July 22, 2015

      I love how you crushed everybody with facts BAEM! Laporta went hog wild with promises and “name calling” and I’m more and more convinced that we got the least evil here.

      Furthermore somebody already brought up consistency. Never change a running system

  14. Inamess
    July 20, 2015

    Nice points Peter. For me the Qatar sponsorship was the most important issue but as soon as Laporta started talking about putting UNICEF back on the shirt I did not take him seriously as a candidate. Whether we like if or not our future supremacy depends in large amount on our ability to obtain and keep some of the best players in the world which will depend on two things: keeping a winning tradition and continuing to generate revenue to pay for these ridiculous salaries and transfer fees.

    TO take the longer view of things what the club has accomplished since 2004 has been extraordinary as we moved from a club that was not even in the top ten in terms of finances and sporting achievement to the very top. Whether Barto ends up being one of our better presidents or not has yet to be seen, but I for one wish him success particularly if he tries to unify the different factions of the club and its fans.

    • July 23, 2015

      People forget that UNICEF IS on the shirt. People forget that the reason UNICEF is on the shirt is so that Barcelona can PAY UNICEF. Having their logo on the front of the shirt does not increase how much UNICEF gets from Barcelona.

      And you’re right, it was a populist move and one that the socis saw through.
      I mean, “There are firms, who would pay 35-40m Euros per year, so that Barcelona shows the logo of UNICEF on the front of the shirt.”
      Why wouldn’t those firms just directly give those 35m ANNUALLY to UNICEF and just make sure every news outlet in the friggin’ world knows about it?

  15. Jim
    July 22, 2015

    Just turned on the TV this morning and was met with the pleasant sight of Sky covering the whole Barca vs LA Galaxy game ! I only saw the second half so you can’t make judgements, especially this early, but nothing made me change my mind about Samper. What a player he is going to be. Can’t let him go on loan. He could play in the first team now. Only problem for him is that at DM he may not get a lot of time. Mind you I suppose that applies to the rest of the midfield. Nobody else stood out for me. Douglas, who I gather played the full ninety, didn’t have a bad game but still looks scared to be playing for Barca to me. TV still to get back some match sharpness but moving well.

    • Jim
      July 22, 2015

      Meant to say, I quite like the hoops ( hate the term horizontal stripes ! ) on the jerseys but as it stands the outfit isn’t great. First of all, lose the horrible yellow stripes on Jersey and socks ( it’s like watching a collection of skeletons running about ) , turn the whole shorts dark blue and I reckon you have cracking outfit. Looks wise, the Nike swoosh on jersey and socks looks more out of place than the Qatar logo but that may not be folks’ biggest issue.

  16. chang
    July 22, 2015

    1st time poster but have followed this blog for a while. Really appreciate the various views and backgrounds the moderators and commentators all have. The use of reason / logic (while respecting diverse views) and the deeper insights here are what keeps me reading.

    I wanted to leave my notes for those curious about the 1st performance of the preseason, especially the youngsters and fringe players. I don’t really watch the youngsters much so I really wanted to catch this game on TV and jot down thoughts.

    Douglas – started out nervous by giving away 2-3 balls but got better as the game went on. His mazy dribble against 4 Galaxy players near the end showed promise, albeit it was against lesser competition

    Roberto – good, energized performance. Really bossed the midfield with Rakitic and Busquets in the 1st half

    Munir and Sandro – both poor and lacking in creativity. Off-the-ball movements weren’t time well but it’s early preseason I guess. Seemed overeager, as seen by the mishit long range shots they both had. Munir had one great chance but tried to touch it once before shooting. I feel like he would’ve just pulled the trigger if it was last year (confidence issue?)

    Samper – showed composure but his touch is heavier than Busquets. I know it’s unfair to compare but that’s where the bar is set, right? He made 1-2 bad mistakes that led to counters which we could afford against lower league & CL competition

    Gumbau – not much to say but seems like the mold of player Enrique would like. Hard-nosed, he fouled within 5s of getting on. With him, Samper, and Iniesta in midfield at the end, we lost alot of control on the game, leading to more chances for the Galaxy

    Halilovic – seemed quite nervous as he gave away possession a few times. I could tell he’s real quick on the ball though. Work-in-progress

    • July 22, 2015

      Thank you for your comment, Chang. Welcome to the family.

  17. simple_barcafan
    July 22, 2015

    Went to the game yesterday! Really fun atmosphere (92223 fans came 🙂 ) . My first Barca match! Quick dump of my thoughts!
    – LA Galaxy players xame out first to practice. Huge roar for Gerrard and Robbie Keane. Lot of Liverpool fans around.
    – Barcelona keepers were the first to come out and practice. Ter Stegen is a keeper(pun intended). But seriously, he looks like he is some zen state all the time.
    – First half was a bit slow to build up. Barca as usual playing the ball around. The player that stood out was Busi. Wow. Watching him on television doesn’t do him justice. He somehow seems to know where the ball will be. It seemed like the other players were running after the ball and Busi on the other hand was waiting for the ball. His positional sense is excellent. Breaking down attacks and providing an outlet for the defence was a consequence of it. Also another thing was his calmness on the ball. The other players Sergio Roberto, Rafinha, Rakitic seemed a bit “hurried” with their touch and passing (compared to Busi).
    -Sergio Roberto, still not sure what to make of him. Was neither good nor bad. Didn’t see anything special that made him stand out.
    – Douglas!. I tried to follow him as much as possible. Surprisingly he didn’t seem to be nervous and gained confidence as the match went on. As far as I know, he just made on “brain fart” mistake through out the match. One thing is he has pace. And he made a nice run at the defence and took a shot that almost went it. Granted the opposition defence is not the best, but he didn’t seem to be as bad as what some fans think he is.
    – I also learnt the importance of “starting play from the back”. A simple concept, almost unnoticeable but you it really makes a difference. I noticed it before/after Pique came in during the second half. The difference between him and Jeremy/Mark was quite clear. In the first half, when Pique wasn’t present, there were a lot of times when the mid fielders made runs waving their arms in frustration only for the defence to ignore them.
    – Second half we had 9 La Masia players I think. The game actually picked up in pace with Iniesta and jordi Alba on the left and Pique starting play from the back.
    – Iniesta dragging 3-4 defenders along with him and then non-nonchalantly passing the ball after evading them was amusing to watch.
    – Samper! He has all the characteristics of becoming an excellent midfielder. If there is one La Masia player which we shouldn’t lose, it is this guy.
    – Halilovic seemed so small. Even the LA Galaxy players seemed hesitant to touch him(almost). He definitely is not ready to play for the first team or even Sevilla in fact. He will be easily bullied from the ball until he increases his body strength. But has a good first touch and seemed Iniesta-like trying to run past defenders.
    – Gumbao, seemed lost. Not sure what position he was playing or trying to play.
    – Munir seems to have become stronger, and has a good first touch.

    Now will be travelling all the way to San Jose to see the next match 🙂

  18. deerwithwings
    July 22, 2015

    Jim, it’s a shame you missed the first half, because I would have liked to hear your opinion on Rakitic’s progress. He played a hell of a game and some of those turns reminded me of someone else.

    Busi was also absolutely brilliant.

    • Jim
      July 22, 2015

      Yeah, I kinda got the feeling it was the kids plus Pique, Iniesta and Alba second half. Mind you whole second half we passed the ball around well. Very disappointed in the quality of LA, though. I’m looking for a lot more from Rakitic next season since he’s now a treble winner. He should get more time with no Xavi around and Turan needing to learn the ropes.

    • Jim
      July 22, 2015

      Wow. Not such good news from Barcastuff.

      B midfielder Sergi Samper wants to leave on loan. If club doesn’t allow it, he could join a team that pays 12M buyout fee, like Arsenal [md]

    • July 22, 2015

      I can’t believe. Has Jim finally set up his Twitter account?

      Oh well, don’t forget to follow:

      @kevvwill
      @rockofthune
      @blitzen13
      @euleri
      @barsalev

    • Jim
      July 23, 2015

      No way, Lev. I was in charge of setting up the school’s Twitter account and I guess I’m still logged in :).

      Mind you, despite my dislike of it I have to say I do visit Barcastuff fairly regularly.

  19. ciaran
    July 22, 2015

    so does this mean you are back now?

  20. mr.undercover
    July 23, 2015

    Impressive points from you peter, I personaly hate laporta’s “hollier than thou” attitude, I expected more reassurances and determination from him,the pre-election debate was a complete banter, a kettle calling a pot black, laporta was naïve and Devoids Persuading tools to convince the soci’s, sticking with the past and droping names I.e cruyf pep la masia UNICEF didn’t do him any favour, and his lose was only himself to be blame with a shallow campaign, am not a proponent of bartomeu but to my Mind I think he is not as black as he is painted, if you ask me about my opinion about the two of them it would look like u are asking me to choose between the devil and the deep blue sea, but despite that I will go with bartomeu the club needs stability in economics aspect as well as sport aspects, if its aint broke don’t fix it, the question that we must all put into consideration is. Why does more than half of the soci’s voted against laporta? Are they pro Bartemeu ? Or anti laporta? Why does the soci’s voted for somebody who we all think that he is going to destroy our beloved club? Does they know something we are oblivious about? Why does the soci’s don’t see laporta as our club saviour as we all see it in social media? Are they paid to vote against him?(probably no) is there any hidden agenda behind the curtain? (you can’t tell) it seems the soci’s have made their mind to move on without laporta without cruyf without pep, so the die is cast, now let’s draw a breathe and give the man a fair chance to prove his worth, as Jim mention earlier being the president is quite different from being a director or head of something in the club. Its a different kettle of fish , BTW yesterdays game was dun to watch noticed some glimpse of talents from samper ! A promising kid indeed

  21. luisthebeast
    July 23, 2015

    Just imagine that:Barca are in China,we play a friendly against world beaters Guangzhou Evergrade,we draw 0-0 and we loose in PK!!!LUCHO OUT!!!

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