Barcelona’s president Josep Maria Bartomeu faces a vote of no confidence in himself and his board of directors after more than 16,000 fans signed a motion against him.
Barcelona’s presidency is up for election in March but a group of supporters are hoping to force Bartomeu out before then, and have now set the wheels in motion.
Bartomeu must now set a continuity candidate to take interim control of the club, who is likely to be one of his allies on the board.
Bartomeu assumed office in 2014 and the team enjoyed success on the pitch the following year, winning the treble of La Liga, Champions League and Copa del Rey in the 2014-15 season under manager Luis Enrique and fronted by a ruthless triumvirate of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.
Barca won three of the next four Liga titles but struggled in European competition, and cracks began to show this year as they surrendered their La Liga crown to Real Madrid before they were crushed by eventual winners Bayern Munich 8-2 in the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
Bartomeu has also taken criticism for his part in overseeing expensive and ineffective transfers like Ousmane Dembele (£117m), Philippe Coutinho (£130m) and Antoine Griezmann (£108m).
But it is the recent fallout with captain Messi which has accelerated fans’ efforts. Messi demanded to leave the club at the end of the season but the move was blocked by the Barca hierarchy amid wrangling over his contract, and Messi has been forced to stay and see out the remaining season on his deal.
Many supporters were sympathetic to the 33-year-old Messi’s desire for a new challenge after spending his entire career at the Nou Camp and sided with the player over the furore.
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