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07.06.2010 11:30

First Presidential Debate


The opening debate between the four candidates to the presidency of FC Barcelona was broadcast on Monday morning on Catalunya Radio.

Agustí Benedito, Jaume Ferrer, Marc Ingla and Sandro Rosell outlined their manifestos for the upcoming presidential elections.

The debate was divided into four policy areas: sports, economic, Club assets and wider social issues and the Laporta legacy.


Sports policy

Mr Benedito would like Josep Guardiola to continue as manager but wants to see a change of director of sport, Txiki Begiristain, and the director of youth football, José Ramón Alexanko. However he stressed that he is more interested in discussing policy than individuals. As regards youth football, he stated: “There’ll be a few changes. I would like to have people I have a good working relationship with”. He also believes that the honorary presidential role given to Johan Cruyff should be reviewed by the membership.

Economic policy and Club assets

He estimates the total debt at 489 million euros though he does not see this as “a big problem - it can be sorted out, though with a different approach from that of recent years”. He promises not to raise the membership fee and believes it isn’t necessary to sell off Club assets. He is absolutely opposed to the sale of the Miniestadi. "The approach isn’t to sell the Miniestadi. People don’t want to sell it and build flats”. He also believes that the Camp Nou needs to be remodelled.

The legacy of Laporta

He described Mr Laporta as “the best president in history” although also saying that he had made some bad mistakes, in particular the agreement reached in Uzbekistan. He believes in maintaining the Catalan nature of the Club and proposes that members should have priority on seats released by season ticket holders: “The member would get a 50% discount on the price of the ticket”. He also believes that members who cannot come to the stadium should be able to watch the match at home on TV for free. He emphasized that general manager Joan Oliver would not continue.


Sports policy

Mr Ferrer defended the sports policy of the last seven years: “It has given us many titles and people are happy with it. Let’s not change something that’s working”. Neither does he propose making any changes to the sports organigram: “I’m concerned about a new president coming in and changing things and changing policy”.

Economics, Club assets and social policy

”FC Barcelona must transform its assets and not sell them off”. For this reason he is in favour of the re-designation of the Miniestadi: “We’ll make a profit but this profit is to reinvest. That will allow us to remodel the Camp Nou or build a hotel which will generate more income”. As for the Foster project, he stated: “The Foster project doesn’t exist because it’s only a model”. He promises not to increase the membership fee and believes that alarmist comments are being made about the Club’s finances that don’t correspond to reality".

The legacy of Laporta

In line with the other candidates Mr Ferrer supports the Catalan identity of FC Barcelona: “Barca has to support the aspirations of the country”. He believes that members who don’t have a season ticket should be helped to attend matches more frequently. He thinks it is necessary to “regulate” the number of members although he admitted: “You can’t stop people from supporting Barca – we have to have another kind of membership card”. He stated that the position of general manager Joan Oliver would have to be reviewed at the end of June but said: “He’s done a great job and still has time to run on his contract”.


Sports policy

"My sports project will follow the thread of the past seven years that started with Frank Rijkaard, Txiki Begiristain and Johan Cruyff as reference points. He is in favour of keeping the partnership between Guardiola and Begiristain and reminded the membership that he is the only one of the four candidates to have worked “should to shoulder” with them: “If Txiki doesn’t stay I would like Guardiola and Txiki to choose the next director of sport”.

Economics, Club assets and social policy

He aims to “double our income” in the next six years. “Barca’s financial situation is not, and will not be, a problem because we have made more profit than ever before. We’ve made money for the last seven years”. He plays down any “alarmism” about the Club’s financial state and promises not to raise the membership fee. He proposes a “few small changes” to the Camp Nou, especially as regards disabled access etc. He does not accept the remodelling plan put forward by Norman Foster. Finally, he suggests appointing Barca ambassadors around the world to generate additional income.

The legacy of Laporta

He wants to see “a more universal Barca than ever. 500 million people see us every day”. He reminded the membership that he was part of the Board that approved the inclusion of the Catalan flag on the strip. Finally, he confirmed that general manager Joan Oliver would not continue in the post if he were elected. “I prefer a more executive and dynamic profile and a person not so politically connected”.


Sports policy

"Guardiola will be the Barca manager whoever wins”. As for the director of sport he will speak to Txiki Begiristain but he will not make any announcement until after the elections. He thinks that the youth academy has not produced enough first team players in recent years. “In the most recent cases of Pedro and Jeffren, we had a role in signing them”. He also promised to open the honorary role of Johan Cruyff to debate.

Economics, Club assets and social policy

He promises not to raise the membership fee for the next three years. He thinks the Camp Nou should be completely remodelled but rejects the project put forward by Norman Foster. He believes that the Club needs to impose “a policy of austerity urgently” to resolve the problem of a “debt of 489 million”. He believes that the agreement with the Barcelona City Council about the re-designation of the Miniestadi “is not good for Barca”. He warns that the Club needs to reduce miscellaneous costs. “This is realism not alarmism”. Finally he proposes a policy of acquiring assets not selling them.

The legacy of Laporta

The four core themes of his policy are. "Membership, Catalonia, solidarity and Masia (youth academy).” He considers the Catalan nature of the Club is “undeniable”. He stated that Mr Oliver would not continue as general manager if he were elected. Finally he proposed some kind of regulation of new members “to prevent the Club from losing its essence”. 
First Presidential Debate
Social policies
Agustí Benedito

”Zero tolerance” of violent fans in the stadium and keeping the UNICEF logo on the shirts until the current agreement expires. He is not in favour of setting up youth academies around the world: “We’re more in favour of looking for players”.

Jaume Ferrer

He is in favour of the UNICEF logo and against having violent fans in the Camp Nou. He praises the current state of the Club: “The Club is in the best moment of its history”. “We have a Barca that cares, that is against violence and that makes people happy”. He reminded members that “I am the only one to have withstood the pressure” for seven years on the Board. He believes the youth academy in Argentina is giving good results.

Marc Ingla

He is in favour of having the UNICEF logo on the shirts and rejects any kind of violence in the Camp Nou. He wants to see youth academies around the world – in countries like Argentina and Brazil. On several occasions he repeated the words “more youth academy players than ever”.

Sandro Rosell

He congratulates Joan Laporta and Evarist Murtra for the agreement with UNICEF and declares himself “radically opposed” to violence in the Camp Nou, reminding members that he was on the Board when certain violent elements were banned from the Camp Nou. He believes that the other professional sports sections “need subsidizing in order to be sustainable” and that these sections are necessary. He believes the members “feel more like customers than members”. He also emphasized that he would not be in favour of spending money on opening foreign youth academies: “Nobody has done this because it doesn’t work. It’s a big mistake. I speak as someone with more than 20 years of experience”.

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