Joan Laporta is to return to Barcelona after sweeping to victory in the club’s presidential election, receiving 54.28 per cent of the vote as he saw off competition from Victor Font and Antoni Freixa.
Laporta’s initial stint for a period of seven years until June 2010 was a remarkable success as the Catalan giants went all the way in the Champions League on two occasions, while they also claimed four LaLiga titles.
His first tenure coincided with Lionel Messi becoming one of the world’s best players and among the most pressing concerns in Laporta’s in-tray will be to convince the Argentinian to remain at Barca beyond the end of the season.
Messi’s contract expires in the summer and he has cast doubt over whether he will sign a new deal – although the club’s superstar forward was one of the 55,611 people who voted to decide the new president.
Of those, Laporta received 30,184 votes, with Font taking 16,679 and Freixa 4,769.
Laporta therefore takes over from Josep Maria Bartomeu, who resigned in October along with his board of directors.
The elections took place just a few days after Barcelona said they had fully cooperated with authorities after Catalan Police conducted a search of the club’s offices on Monday.
The case, dubbed ‘Barcagate’, is said to relate to allegations from a year ago that Barca contracted a company dedicated to creating social media accounts with a view to disparaging certain people associated with the club.
Barca denied the allegations and the club said last July that an audit report they commissioned by PricewaterhouseCoopers showed there had not been “any defamatory campaigns directed at third parties” and that “no corrupt behaviour took place”.
On Monday, Barca released a statement confirming their premises had been searched and that the club had been assisting with the investigation.