The many crises of Barça and how the new president can take the club forward

Marc Duch, president of fan association Manifest Blaugrana, criticizes the “absolute mismanagement” of the previous board

Empty Camp Nou before the beginning of a match between FC Barcelona and Eibar on December 29, 2020 (by Albert Gea/Reuters)
Empty Camp Nou before the beginning of a match between FC Barcelona and Eibar on December 29, 2020 (by Albert Gea/Reuters) / Cillian Shields

Cillian Shields | Barcelona

January 3, 2021 10:26 AM

Marc Duch has been one of the most vocal and visible critics of the previous president and board of FC Barcelona. As president of Manifest Blaugrana, a Barça supporters association, he was one of the leading figures in the campaign to remove Josep Maria Bartomeu as president of the club.

Together with other fan associations and linking up with three pre-candidates to succeed Bartomeu at the helm, he launched, in part, the ‘Més que una moció’ initiative, a play on words of FC Barcelona’s famous club motto, that ultimately led to Bartomeu resigning from his post before a referendum could be held. 

The now-former president stepped down in October, and Duch believes that the next president, whoever they are, needs to return the essence of that motto - ‘more than a club’ - back to the club. 

Financial losses and debts

Bartomeu left the club with massive debts and the most recent accounts unveiled in October shows that the club made a €97 million loss on the last year, although with much of that down to the effects of the pandemic. 

Duch explains in an interview with Catalan News that Manifest Blaugrana have been “seeking some accountability from the board of the club” ever since their inception, and “informing people that things were not done properly, that numbers were not going as well as [the board] told, that the first team squad was quite limited.” As such they felt the need to “take part in the business and remove the board because it was pretty clear they were not capable of managing the club,” Duch says. 

In particular, the Manifest Blaugrana president took issue with the management of finances, and the management of the “institution” of FC Barcelona. Between signing players with transfer fees and offering contracts on high salaries, “far above their market value” in each case, Duch believes that Bartomeu’s board were unable to control the finances of the club. 

“You cannot be spending money as happily as they were. They had no sporting direction, they were just signing here or there with no sense at all.” 

16 trophies during six-year spell

Bartomeu will point to the number of titles that the club won under his guidance as proof of his success. The men’s senior team claimed 16 trophies during his six-year spell in charge, while the women’s team have grown into one of the best teams in Europe during that time. Counting the club’s other professional divisions, including basketball, roller hockey, and handball, his presidency brought in more trophies than any other previous holder of the office - 115. 

Duch acknowledges this success but argues that the trophy count is not all that matters for a club like Barcelona, one that aims to play an active and leading role in the community. 

“Of course, he can go home and say ‘I’ve been quite successful because I’ve got a lot of trophies’ - yes you can, but you left the club in 800 million debt, in a totally weak position in the market,” Duch points out. 

“We are really close to being in a big problem because we have to pay salaries in January and we have nothing in the bank. So you won trophies, but at what price? At what cost?”

Taking care of the ‘institution’ 

Besides that, he accuses the previous board of failing to take care of the “institution” itself. “You are FC Barcelona, you are a reference in the world, the spotlight is on you so you have to take care of what people think about you.”

“There are many decisions across the past few years that were controversial, such as signing Neymar, with the trial, not paying the taxes as they should have been paid, signing children for the academy in irregular conditions. Many things were not done as the institution deserves.”