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Ex-Barcelona president Joan Laporta suffers setback in Neymar deal case

The government agency that agreed a deal with Barca has urged the court to reject Joan Laporta's legal challenge.

Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta has hit a setback in his attempt to challenge the club's agreement with local tax authorities over the signing of Neymar.

Barca signed Neymar from Santos in 2013 but allegations followed that the complex transfer had been designed to hide the true cost of the deal

Earlier this month, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed that an agreement had been reached with the central Spanish authorities to pay €15 million in back taxes and a €5.5m fine. 

Barcelona's board voted 14-2, with two abstentions, to formally approve the pact that also meant Bartomeu and former president Sandro Rosell, who resigned following the allegations, would not face charges that could have resulted in a prison sentence.

Laporta said after the announcement that the agreement should not be allowed as it stains the club's image while "saving the behinds" of its current leaders. 

He and nine other Barca members made an official submission to the court, saying the deal should not be allowed as well as criticising the regime's "disastrous" management of the club.

However, the government agency that agreed the pact has asked the court to reject his complaint, saying it is not the judges' job to rule on whether the Barca board are doing a good job or not.

AS published an extract of the agency's submission to the court, which read: "The object of the current case is not to determine if the management by the directors (past and present) was disastrous or not.

"In this situation it is clear that the real intention is not to defend legitimate interests in a neutral way, and to participate in the administration of justice, it is another very different intention."

Laporta, who served as Barca president between 2003 and 2010, fell out with Rosell and Bartomeu during his time at the helm.

In 2014, Bartomeu's board made a failed attempt to hold the board headed by Laporta legally responsible for alleged overspending during the lawyer and former politician's reign.

Laporta was defeated by Bartomeu when he attempted to return to the helm in the 2015 presidential election.

Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan


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