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Laporta to continue at Barca without election

MADRID, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Joan Laporta is set to continue as president of Barcelona for another four years after his rivals failed to muster the required 1,804 votes to stand against him in an election.

The 44-year-old lawyer was expected to be challenged for his post when a Spanish judge ruled he had exceeded his four-year term in office, after a complaint by three club members.

Laporta, elected to the post in 2003, was ordered to hold a new poll in July following a ruling by a Spanish judge, who upheld a complaint by three club members that he had exceeded his four-year term in office.

The judge ruled that according to the club's statutes the year ran from July to June, and that as Laporta had taken power on June 22, 2003, the eight days before the end of the month constituted his first year in office.

Laporta's four-year term therefore expired on June 30 this year and the electoral process was initiated last month.

However, none of the pre-candidates were able to raise the necessary number of signatures needed to stand and leading rivals Jaume Guixa and Jordi Medina said on Monday that they would withdraw from the race.

With Laporta reported to have exceeded the requirements with ease, the 44-year-old lawyer will now continue as president until 2010.

The club is expected to confirm him in his post later this week.

Laporta took charge of Barcelona in 2003 on the back of a pledge to sign England midfielder David Beckham when he took power.

The move failed to materialise as Beckham opted to join arch-rivals Real Madrid and instead the Catalans signed Ronaldinho from Paris St Germain.

The Brazilian forward acted as the catalyst for the revival of the club and has since steered them to two league titles and victory in the Champions League.