28 October 2020 16:39
"(On Monday), the board of directors approved the requirements to participate in a future European Super League, a project promoted by the big clubs in Europe." 1:27 Josep Bartomeu has 'gone out with a big bang' after resigning as Barcelona president, according to Spanish football expert Semra Hunter. Last week, Sky News reported a £4.6 billion funding package had been put in place for a breakaway league, that would feature up to 18 clubs from Europe's top five leagues, and is supported by Liverpool and Manchester United. In response, La Liga president Javier Tebas said Bartomeu's comments confirmed his "ignorance" about the football industry and described the Super League as "a weak and imaginary competition". Tebas tweeted: "Unfortunate that Bartomeu announced on his last day the participation in a phantom competition, which would be the ruin of Barcelona, ratifying his ignorance in the football industry." Was Bartomeu trying to deflect attention away from the turmoil at Barcelona? 0:25 Josep Bartomeu resigns from his role as Barcelona president and says the club has accepted a proposal to join a future European Super League.
"It's a massive story and a long time in the making," Spanish football expert Semra Hunter told Sky Sports. "He had one last card to play, and that was to try to push back the referendum on the vote of no confidence to November 15 given the current situation in Spain with the coronavirus, but the Catalan government refused, saying it will have to take place at the Camp Nou on November 1. He will still go down as the least liked president at Barcelona." Image: Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has been outspoken against the board He called the government's decision irresponsible in his speech, while thanking the club and saying he could not have resigned earlier. He had felt growing resentment in the last year due to the club's worsening finances and the team's decline on the pitch, which came to a head with their 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August. The 57-year-old had been widely criticised after forward Lionel Messi requested a transfer following the Lisbon humiliation, but Bartomeu confessed on Tuesday he had stayed on as it was the only way of keeping the Argentine at the club. Amid the increasing financial strain and battle to keep Messi, Bartomeu explained: "After being knocked out of the Champions League, the easiest thing was to leave. Image: Lionel Messi was embroiled in a civil war with the club in the summer This has felt a long time coming, however. The writing was on the wall following Saturday's 3-1 home defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico - despite Bartomeu's attempts to convince the Catalan government to scrap the censure vote due to the coronavirus pandemic. In Spain, those 'socios' who had turned their backs on the departing president woke up to headlines claiming Bartomeu had 'thrown in the towel', according to Sport. Having appointed their former player as manager in the close season, Barca have won only two of their opening five league games, including Saturday's loss to Madrid at an empty Nou Camp. Image: Spanish publication Sport lead with 'Bartomeu throws in the towel' with 'Resigned' on the front page of Mundo Deportivo After a trophyless 2019/20 campaign, this always felt like a transitional term with Bartomeu still around. Three different sporting directors have fallen short in coming up with the answers to the club's ongoing recruitment struggles. With Bartomeu walking, Messi is now likely to extend his stay beyond his current deal, which expires next summer. There will be elections in the coming weeks to designate the new executive board. Former president Joan Laporta and Victor Font are among the frontrunners to succeed Bartomeu, but whoever is appointed would do well to strike a strong relationship with the club's talisman. Temporary president Carles Tusquets is obliged to call elections within the next three months as Barcelona move into a brave new era. 0:29 Lionel Messi is far more likely to stay at Barcelona and sign a new contract with the club following the departure of president Josep Maria Bartomeu. Everyone knows that the natural transition will involve him becoming head coach in the future but Ronald Koeman has a contract for two years until 2022. "His future not only depends on who becomes president but also on his development and results. "Messi's future is now much more certain than Koeman's case. Messi wanted to leave last summer but now he very much has the option to stay. If Joan Laporta or Toni Freixa arrive as the new president, his relationship with the Argentine is already fantastic, so he could stay - but it all depends on the board members. "With Bartomeu, there was no chance, but his chances to stay now - especially if Laporta is elected president - are huge." Real Madrid made life pretty hard for themselves with their opening Champions League defeat to Shakhtar Donetsk, and while they were able to mount an unlikely late comeback to draw away to Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday, they remain bottom of Group B heading into their double-header with Inter Milan. The Spanish pages highlighted Real's never-say-die attitude having scored twice in the final minutes through Karim Benzema and Casemiro - coming after Thibaut Courtois had made a vital save to deny Alassane Plea from adding to Marcus Thuram's double. Real were staring down the barrel and had been in disarray at half-time, where a video of Benzema telling Ferland Mendy not to pass to Vinicius Jr because he was "playing against us" has gone viral, underlining the belief the club are only ever one defeat away from another crisis. Image: Spanish paper Marca leads with 'Never give up - the first commandment of Madrid', while AS headlines 'A point from faith' Zinedine Zidane was under immense pressure and might well have walked had his side been beaten in El Clasico, but when it comes to the Champions League, he will not panic. Real have always qualified from the group stages of the competition, and they only had one point after two fixtures last season, and still reached the last 16 with plenty to spare. The Belgian has struggled to justify his £130m transfer since moving to the Spanish capital in the summer of 2019, but he will have to be carefully managed given the quick turnaround of fixtures. The crucial encounters with Inter Milan coming up next month will ultimately decide Real's Champions League fate.