New Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has made his first major boardroom reshuffle, sidelining former club spokesperson Toni Freixa.
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Freixa, who was close to ex-president Sandro Rosell, is known for making occasional forthright comments, and just last week he had to delete a tweet in which he criticised Barca’s performance in the 2-0 Copa del Rey semifinal first-leg win over Real Sociedad.
The Blaugrana will now have a fifth vice-president in Manel Arroyo, who is to oversee the club’s media and communications departments, while Freixa will preside over the discipline committee.
Meanwhile, economic vice-president Javier Faus, who had a public row with Lionel Messi over a possible pay rise last year, is now the second most senior figure on the board, while further changes were made to the hierarchy overseeing the club’s youth structures.
The redesign is aimed at reinforcing Bartomeu’s chances of winning Barca’s next presidential election, either next summer or in 2016 when the current board’s mandate ends.
And Bartomeu told a news conference that an improved media strategy was now hoped for following the changes.
“These changes come from the need to renew our energy and to increase the services given by the directors to the club,” Bartomeu said. “We expect a lot of [Arroyo’s new role]. Communication is fundamental.”
At the same event, the Barca chief followed in the footsteps of predecessor Rosell by saying that Messi deserves a new contract -- which would see him earn more than Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo -- although he added that it was not the time to discuss the details.
“About his renewal, he has a contract, but we want him to be the best paid in the world, “Bartomeu said. “We will talk about it when the time comes. But not now when the competition is going on.”
Bartomeu said it was also not the time to start talking about a new contract for coach Gerardo Martino, who is only seven months into the two-year he deal signed last summer.
“[Martino] is doing magnificent work, and has a contract until June 2015,” he said. “This is not the moment to talk about contract renewals. We must wait until the season ends.”