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Former Barcelona presidents give evidence in La Masia court case

Former Barcelona presidents Sandro Rosell and Joan Laporta have both given evidence in a court case in which damages of almost 100 million euros are being sought against the Catalan club.

Marketing company Muro Cortina Modular (MCM) are claiming 99.3 million euros in damages after a deal fell through to advertise on the facade of the Catalan club's new La Masia youth academy building, which opened in 2011.

The 25-year publicity deal was allegedly agreed with Laporta just before his term as Blaugrana chief ended in summer 2010, with Rosell then cancelling the arrangement as soon as he took up the position.

The deal would apparently have seen an electronic "second skin" attached to the symbolic building -- with energy drink Red Bull and chocolate milkshake brand Cacaolat talked about as potential sponsors.

Rosell, who resigned as Barca president in January 2014 after a Spanish judge opened an investigation into the signing of Neymar the previous summer, said in comments to the court reported in AS that both the compensation claim and the length of the initial deal had been excessive.

"The compensation claimed seems absurd and exaggerated to me," Rosell said. "The contract which was signed between this company and the previous board, which was for 25 years, also seems exaggerated. It was strange to sign it, knowing that a new regime was coming in at the club."

Rosell resigned as a result of the ongoing investigation into Neymar's transfer.

Rosell also said that he did not believe that advertising on the La Masia building, a symbol of the club's much lauded youth system which has produced Blaugrana heroes such as Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, was wrong in theory.

"To put an advert on the wall of La Masia is the same as on any other Barcelona building," he said. "I am not a property marketing expert, but I can distinguish between the facade of La Masia and the symbolic value of La Masia."

Laporta was also in the court on Monday, but his evidence was postponed due to the lack of a Catalan speaking interpreter.

The potential candidate in the summer's coming presidential election at the Camp Nou did say outside the court that he did not agree with Rosell's comments about the symbolism of the building in question.

"La Masia is not one more building, it is the dream factory," he said.

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