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Rosell takes credit for Barca growth

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell praised his own financial stewardship of the club at its annual general meeting as record annual revenues were predicted.

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The AGM, which lasted for six hours, was held before Saturday’s 4-1 La Liga win over Real Valladolid. It reviewed the first three years of Rosell’s term, passed a budget of 509 million euros for 2013-14 and ratified statutes stating that any president who oversaw an annual loss would have two years to make up the deficit or must stand down.

Rosell -- who banned colour photocopying at the Camp Nou as part of a cost-cutting drive when he arrived -- said his “austerity” project marked the current board as different to the previous “junta” led by Joan Laporta.

“We have cleaned up the club over the last three years with a policy of transparency, austerity and growth,” Rosell said. “[Reducing] the debt is the real key to the battle for our economic management and what makes us different.” Barca’s financial results showed the club’s debt had fallen from 430 million euros to 331 million euros during the board’s first three years.

The club finished its last financial year with a 49 million euro surplus, while investments in youth teams (73 million euros) and improvements to facilities (35 million euros) have also been made.

Barcelona’s economic vice-president, Javier Faus, said the new statute governing losses and resignation was in keeping with Rosell’s commitment to sustainable financial management.

“When we took control, the president mandated that we professionalise the club,” he said. “We proposed that the best way to avoid mistakes was to protect the club from the board. The president, in an act of generosity, approved the measure that if certain ratios of sustainability were not met, he would step down.”

Other achievements trumpeted at the AGM included a tripling of royalties from Barca merchandise to 15 million euros in the last three years and the club’s website being published in eight languages and receiving 45 million page views per month. The meeting was also told that Camp Nou ticket sales had increased 64 percent since the 2009-10 season.

Another statute was changed to mean that 15 percent of members must approve in advance any attempt to “censure” a Barca director. The figure had previously been five percent, and the move was criticised last week by members of protest group Go Barca last week because it stymied their attempt to officially censure Rosell and three other directors.

Rosell’s time in charge has not been universally praised, and Go Barca have alleged that the board had “lied” to members, saying it was unhappy with the club’s commercial dealings with Qatar and Brazil, its transfer policy, dealings with fans and its handling of the exit of defender Eric Abidal.

However Saturday’s meeting saw little discontent or criticism, with El Pais headlining its report ‘The Assembly yields to Rosell’.

In April, former Nike executive Rosell announced his attention to run for a second term, even though his current spell still has three years yet to run. Laporta, Agusti Benedito -- beaten by Rosell in the 2010 election -- and Enric Masip, a former Barca handball player with aspirations for the post, have all been mentioned as potential challengers.


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