This should have been the final week before a new Barcelona president was elected. The election has been delayed in the end, but true to his promise, Joan Laporta has spoken to SPORT.-
Pep Guardiola was 50 on Monday, did you wish him well?
Do you think he will return to Barça in the future?
Pep is the best coach in the world and I am proud of the relationship we have. It would be nice to have him back at Barça one day.
Has the delay in the election damaged you more than the other candidates?
Hombre, we were well-positioned to win these elections. We'd done well and for the reasons given by the managing committeee... well, we can't vote on Jan. 24.
Will you change your strategy ahead of March 7, if that's when the elections are held?
No, it's the same. What we will do is make the necessary adjustments to the campaign team because we only had them committed until Jan. 25, so budget changes in that sense.
Did you understand Carles Busquets' reasons for postponing?
I accepted them sportingly and with due respect, but I didn't share them. I don't understand why we can't vote on Jan. 24.
Because of restrictions on movement…
The managing committee's job is to organise elections and they could have done that perfectly. I said that in the meeting. The problem with socios being unable to move from their areas to vote could have been solved easily with a responsibility certificate from the government.
Was the decision not made in the interests of the socios?
I said what I said precisely to defend the interests of FC Barcelona, because the club can't be without a president for any longer. It's damaging the club and we most vote as soon as possible.
Font and Freixa wanted to delay?
We had different thoughts on it. You should ask them why they didn't want to vote on Jan. 24.
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Will the candidates get involved with decisions made by managing committee from now on?
We are now able to grant them power. They will keep me informed but I will not take part in any decisions because it's not on me.
People may not be against it though...
If we the candidates start to act as a managing committee it would taint the electoral process. We've only reached this situation because the managing committee didn't want to organise elections until now. They chose Jan. 24, I respect that, but it could have been much sooner.
You're worried about the lack of leadership without a board, could it damage the club?
Keep in mind that very big decisions need to be made, like planning for next season, reorganising the debt, controlling spending, bringing in more revenue, sporting decisions...
Eric Garcia in January?
We can't take decisions like that. As candidates, we can just give our opinion. The only solution is to vote and have a new president.
What did you say on the Garcia issue?
That if he's out of contract in June, is wanted by the sporting structure at the club and wants to come to Barça, we can wait until the end of the season. He's free in a few months and we can save the five million they're asking for, plus his wages and the agent commission.
Do you fear another trophy-less season?
I am optimistic, I see the glass half full and I think we will something this season. The team has to believe in itself, the coach has to try and find the system of play and among everyone get the results we want.
What's Laporta's sporting project?
It will be ambitious, very professional, respecting our genuine system of playing football and applying the Cruyff philosophy. We will be innovative in terms of management of the academy, La Masia, because we want it to be a centre of excellence and a reference across the world.
Victor Valdes will be back at the club if you win?
We have a great relationship. He's a brave person. I don't have any commitment to him. But the great Barça players should take on the appropriate jobs to strengthen the sporting project.
Has Xavi's name been abused in the electoral process?
Not by me. I haven't used anyone's name. I repeat: I have no commitment to anyone.
Are you more optimistic about Messi staying now?
One of the reasons Barça need a president and a board of directors is precisely to be able to take the necessary decisions and in that sense be able to make Messi a concrete offer in economic terms that the club can fulfill... and ensure that on the pitch the team will be competitive. It doesn't help at all that the elections have been delayed. The more time that passes, the less it helps the Messi case and many other issues.