Likely Barcelona presidential candidate Augusto Benedito has called for new elections at the club to allow its socios to clearly choose their new leader.
• Tomas: Bring elections forward
Current president Josep Maria Bartomeu acceded to the top position when Sandro Rosell stepped aside last week amid the ongoing court investigation into the signing of Neymar, but he has stated clearly that he expects to keep that role until the current regime’s mandate ends in June 2016.
But Benedito, runner-up in the 2010 presidential vote behind clear winner Rosell, told a news conference in the Catalan capital on Tuesday that the best way to bring harmony to the club was to hold a new vote this summer.
“In 2010, I took part in elections that Rosell won democratically and by a wide margin,” Benedito said. “Bartomeu in that moment was not a candidate; it was never specified in the voting who would be Rosell’s hypothetical replacement.
“To avoid any conflict, I would ask [Bartomeu] to call elections. I ask him not to wait until 2016 to see if he is chosen or not by the socios. Maybe not immediately, so that the teams are not interfered with, but at the end of the season. It would be the best thing he could do for Barca.”
Benedito said he was opposed to the current board’s plan, put forward by Rosell and now supported by Bartomeu, to spend 600 million euros developing the Camp Nou. The project -- described as “risky” by former Barca director Joan Castells -- is to be put to a vote of Barca’s socios on April 5 or 6.
“I ask for April’s referendum to be suspended, and an open debate begun about other alternatives that are less risky,” Benedito said. “If I am chosen in elections, I would undo this exorbitant investment of 600 million euros, which could put the club at risk.
“They thought about spending 50 million euros on a minor change to the stadium; now it is 600 million, a figure so big it could affect the future of our club. I would be afraid to put the club in that vulnerable a situation. I do not want to recall what has happened at Valencia [whose new stadium was left half-completed when cash ran out in 2009].
“This project should be in an election manifesto. Our proposal would be totally different - spending between 200 and 300 million euros.”
Asked about the idea that a conspiracy led by Real Madrid president Florentino Perez was behind Rosell’s exit, Benedito said he found that story hard to believe.
“I do not see Jordi Cases taking orders from Florentino,” he said. “I do not believe in that ‘film.’ He is a solid Cule who would not deal with Madridismo to do damage. I am not in agreement with the president [on that].”
Joan Laporta, who had been Barca president from 2003 to 2010, also said in El Periodico that a new election should be held in the summer.
“With Rosell’s resignation I think that the current president of FCB, in this exceptional situation where he lacks full legitimacy, having not been chosen by the socios at the polls, must call elections at the end of the season,” Rosell said.