Bartomeu issues defiant Messi claim as Barcelona chief’s exit confirmed

Josep Maria Bartomeu's reign as Barcelona president has come to an end, with the 57-year-old announcing his resignation on Tuesday along with the club's board of directors.

His six years in charge was fraught with controversy, with Lionel Messi involved in a spat with Bartomeu as he attempted to force a move away from the Nou Camp and Barcelona's on-field performances on the decline.

He was also accused of corruption back in September, while former boss Quique Setien announced that same month that he was taking legal action against the club over his exit.

Setien accused Barcelona of 'not complying with their employment contracts' after Bartomeu and the club announced his sacking before officially communicating it to the 61-year-old.

In a statement, Setien claimed he only received "written confirmation of said dismissal (without any settlement)" on September 16 – nearly a full month after he was sacked.

In the wake of all the controversy at Barcelona, over 20,000 club members signed a motion to remove him as president but Bartomeu has now resigned to ensure he did not become the first president to be kicked out by a vote of no confidence.

However, in his resignation speech, Bartomeu issued a defiant response to his critics detailing why he and the board of directors did not resign earlier.

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"After being knocked out of the Champions League, the easiest thing was to leave," he said. "The easiest thing was to resign.

"Yet the day after that painful defeat we had to take decisions that we could not put off any more, key to guaranteeing the sporting future and immediate sustainability of the Club.

"Furthermore, we had to do so in the middle of a global crisis without precedent. We could not leave the Club in the hands of an Interim Board with limited powers.

"Who would have found the new coach? Who would have handled transfers? Who would have fought for Leo Messi to stay? Who would have carried out the budget cuts? Who would have handled the salary adjustments of the professional sportspeople at the Club?

"As a Board we understood that, out of responsibility, we have to take those decisions. The majority of which were uncomfortable and unpopular.

"The most obvious sign that we were not holding on to power is that we called elections for the month of March. The earliest date allowed by the Statutes.

"That was because we believed that this would help to calm things down, allow teams to work and allow an ordered transition to the newly elected Board of Directors.

"An early resignation would have led to the Club being tied up in an electoral process, a power vacuum, under the management of an Interim Board with limited powers that within a few weeks would have to take sporting and economic decisions with serious consequences that could not be put off."

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