La Liga Loca is not entirely sure if it is a rain on your wedding day moment, but it appears the plump goose of Josep Maria Bartomeu was saved from the oven by the man he was reportedly on the brink of firing six months ago.
Saturday’s victory in the Barcelona presidential elections - called a year early to relieve pressure on a very much under-fire Bartomeu in January - was won by the incumbent with a 54% share of the vote, 21% more than Joan Laporta.
Although that sounds like a comprehensive squashing, only 47, 270 of the 118,665 eligible to do so voted, meaning Bartomeu’s 25,823 figure is not a huge mandate of support, unless he was running Getafe.
Nevertheless, it is more than anyone else running got, and that is what generally matters in democracies. Unfortunately. But at the beginning of the year the culé world looked tremendously bleak for Bartomeu. The team was behind Real Madrid in the table. Leo Messi was calling a sickie to miss training. The relationship between the Argentine and Luis Enrique had deteriorated.
Sporting director Andoni Zubizaretta had been sacked in a desperate act of scapegoating by Bartomeu. A FIFA transfer ban was in place and the club seemed to be in the news on a daily basis over the accursed Neymar contract which will see Bartomeu himself facing trial for tax fraud.
Former president Joan Laporta was waiting in the wings, simultaneously licking his lips, rubbing his hands and knocking his knees in anticipation of a return after stepping down due to term limits in 2010.
By the time the poll pulled into port on Saturday, Laporta also had the armoury of Barcelona’s ‘B’ team being relegated from the second division and the ongoing unpopularity of UNICEF being booted out to be replaced by the overlords of Qatar.
However, Luis Enrique delivered a Treble to the club, and Bartomeu delivered Arda Turan, when he technically wasn’t in charge of the institution. This was enough for all the misdemeanours of the past and present to be dismissed in the minds of Barcelona fans, who will now see Bartomeu as King of Cataluyna for the next six years, although that is an extraordinarily long time in Spanish football. Centuries everywhere else.
Barcelona ‘socios’ might also have looked over in Mordor at Real Madrid and gone for the ABF strategy: Anyone But Florentino. While Xavi Hernández was given joyous send-offs aplenty in front of the fans before heading to Qatar, Iker Casillas was bundled out of the back door but allowed to stand in front of some trophies, watched by some supporters who spent their time calling for the head of the president.
And Pérez is still paying for what was an improvised, half-arsed farewell to go with the rest of those popular fan figures who got in Florentino’s way in the past - Vicente del Bosque, Fernando Hierro, Guti and Raul.
Sunday’s AS published what can only be described in clichés as a blistering attack on Real Madrid via an interview with Santos Marquez, the representative of Casillas and a figure who has known Pérez since 1994 and was involved in the deals for Luis Figo and Zinedine Zidane.
“He hasn’t uttered one single truth in many years,” claimed Marquez on Florentino’s assertion that Casillas was the one who requested a move away from Madrid. “What he says is his truth, and that is the same as preaching. He kicked out the best people he has ever known.”
The FIFA agent who definitely has an axe or two to both drink and then bury in Florentino’s back says that, eventually, the decision to kick Casillas out and for Cristiano Ronaldo to sell his image rights to Peter Lim, the owner of Valencia, will see a premature end to his tenure sooner rather than later.
Although AS claimed that the pair still dine on a regular basis, that sounds like a date that is on the brink of being cancelled with Marquez revealing that the pair eventually fell out over the sale of Claude Makelele.
“Florentino doesn’t like black players; he’s not a racist but he doesn’t like them. I also fought with him over Eto’o. Samuel was just as much a galáctico as Figo. He left for the colour of his skin.”
With Barcelona now on a sound footing institutionally, Real Madrid could be next to wobble. Although Florentino Pérez has absolute power at the club and rules it absolutely, the club president does not have a Treble to fall back on to keep the supporters at bay.
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