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By ESPN Staff
Jul 19, 2006

Now Barcelona set for presidential election

MADRID, July 19 (Reuters) - Barcelona have been ordered to hold an immediate presidential election by a Spanish judge who upheld a complaint from three club members that Joan Laporta had already served four years.

'An electoral process to chose a new board must be called as soon as possible,' Judge Roberto Garcia Ceniceros said in a statement on Wednesday.

He ruled that according to the club's statutes the year ran from July to June, and that as Laporta officially took power on June 22, 2003 the period before the end of that month constituted his first year in office.

Laporta's four-year term would therefore have expired on June 30 this year.

A club spokesman said an emergency meeting of the board had been called for Friday to discuss the matter.

Laporta won the 2003 election pledging to buy England midfielder David Beckham when he came to power. The move did not materialise but Laporta did sign Brazilian Ronaldinho.

Since then the Catalan club has won two Primera Liga titles and the Champions League in May.

Despite the success over the last two seasons Laporta has faced criticism from some quarters.

A number of board directors, including vice-president Sandro Rosell, resigned last year because they had become disenchanted with his increasingly domineering style.

Last October he was forced into a U-turn to accept the resignation of his brother-in-law Alejandro Echevarria who it was revealed had once been a member of a foundation honouring former dictator Francisco Franco.

The revelations sent shockwaves through a club that has traditionally identified itself with Catalan nationalism and opposition to right-wing dictator Franco, who ruled Spain with an iron hand between 1939 and his death in 1975.

Fans have also complained about the lack of tickets made available to them for this year's Champions League final in which they beat Arsenal 2-1 in Paris.