How does the vote of no confidence in the Barcelona president work and what’s next?

After surpassing the number of signatures needed to start the motion, they will now be verified before a referendum will take place

FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu (Reuters)
FC Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu (Reuters) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

September 18, 2020 05:23 PM

Josep Maria Bartomeu’s reign as president of FC Barcelona has been turbulent from start to finish; and although it hasn’t ended yet, we can still be practically guaranteed of tension until he leaves.

The turbulence will come from a multitude of origins, not least from club captain, legend, and undoubtedly their greatest player ever, Lionel Messi, who very publicly stated he wanted to leave the club this summer for free, only to be denied by Bartomeu after the president went “against his word” according to the player. How happy or plugged in Messi will be in matches this season is yet to be seen. What’s for certain is that new manager Ronald Koeman has huge challenges ahead of him.

Bartomeu, who has presided over numerous scandals and controversies, and could yet be mired in a potential criminal case, has his days numbered at the helm of Barça. He will leave next summer at the latest, as elections have already been announced for March, and he cannot serve more than two terms.

But in fact, he could be forced out of the club even sooner than that, as various groups have put forward a vote of no confidence against his presidency. 

The process for this vote looked difficult to kick-off, as the first phase required physical signatures from as many as 15% of the club’s members - 16,520 - to begin proceedings, made all the more difficult by the reduced mobility amid a global pandemic, and without any fans at games to gather people at any one opportune time. 

Organizers behind the vote of no confidence had two weeks to collect this amount of signatures, and in the end, 20,687 fans backed the attempts to oust Bartomeu from the club. So, what comes next for Bartomeu and the vote of no confidence, and who is behind the motion? 

How does the Barcelona vote of no confidence in Bartomeu work?

First, the 20,687 signatures need to be verified - only members of the club can put their name to the vote of no confidence, of which there are roughly 110,000 in the world. 

This verification process will be undertaken by a board comprised of a member of the Catalan Football Federation, two FC Barcelona directors, and the first two members who signed off on beginning the no-confidence proceedings - Jordi Farré and Josep Triadó. They will have ten business days to count and verify the votes. 

If the sufficient signatures are verified, then phase three of the motion will begin, following the first two phases of collecting signatures and then verifying them. A date will be set for members of the club to vote on whether Bartomeu should continue or not as president of FC Barcelona. The call to vote must be published on the club’s website and must take place within 40 days of the verification of the signatures. 

Likely around the end of October or early November, club members will have to decide whether or not Bartomeu should be removed immediately. For the vote to be valid, a minimum of 10% of the club members must participate in the vote. 

For the motion of no confidence to pass, a two-thirds majority vote must go in favour of removing the current president. 

If the referendum is passed and Bartomeu’s exit is forced from the club, new elections will be set for a new president and board to take over the reins at the club. 

Who started the vote of no confidence? 

A platform named ‘Més que una Moció’ (‘More than a Motion’ in Catalan, playing on the club motto of ‘More than a Club’) began the process. The group is comprised of three people who will be candidates in the next presidential election, Jordi Farré, Victor Font, and Lluís Fernández Alá, as well as eight different opinion groups related to the club. 

All entities and individuals have taken it upon themselves to take action to “get the current Board of Directors to leave the Club immediately and, on the other hand, to build a better Barça,” as stated on their website,   

Has any previous Barça president been removed with a vote of no confidence?

No FC Barcelona presidents before have been removed from power in this way, although twice votes were held and failed. 

In 1998, a vote of no confidence didn’t pass against Josep Lluís Núñez, while ten years later, Joan Laporta survived the same type of referendum. In both cases, the motions reached the required number of signatures to force the referendum.

In 2017, there was an attempted vote of no confidence taken against Josep Maria Bartomeu, although the backers of that motion didn’t gather the requisite number of signatures to go to a vote.