Rosell set to take over from Laporta

Sandro Rosell is set to become the new president of Barcelona in

Sunday’s elections at the Catalan club.

The former vice-president is runaway leader in the polls and

gathered more signatures from the socios than the other three

candidates put together.

Rosell, who worked under current president Laporta from 2003 to

2005, was key to bringing players like Ronadinho and Deco to the

Catalan club.

But the 46 year-old stepped down in 2005, claiming Laporta was

failing to carry out his original plan.

The two have been at loggerheads ever since and although the

team have been hugely successful on the pitch, winning 12 trophies

in seven years under Laporta, Rosell believes the club has become

too political under his former colleague.

“There have been some good things, like the partnership with

Unicef and the appointment of (Pep) Guardiola (as coach), but Barca

should never be mixed with politics,” he said in last night’s

televised debate between the four candidates.

Laporta has openly declared his intentions to enter politics

once he leaves the club and has set his sights on becoming

president of Catalonia.

The current Barca chief has also been criticised for an

exaggerated nationalistic stance in his time as president, which

has ostracised many of the club’s non-Catalan supporters.

But Rosell says Barcelona are a symbol for region and believes

the club’s Catalan essence should remain intact.

“The Catalan nature forms part of the essence of the club, but

it has to be understood in a totally open manner, without

(political) party support,” he said.

“The Barca we are proposing will be involved with the territory

and its people.”

Rosell, who is likely to bring in his own sporting director to

replace Txiki Begiristain – reported to be former Barca player and

coach Carles Rexach – says his priority will be to strengthen the

playing staff.

“If we win the elections, the first thing I will do will be to

sit down with Pep (Guardiola) to see how we can strengthen the

playing squad,” he said.

Should Rosell triumph, the 46-year-old will have to liaise with

Laporta for two weeks in a handover period, but the president-elect

is unconcerned by that prospect.

“I am sure the transition would be smooth,” he said.

The second favourite to win tomorrow’s elections, Barca’s former

sport and marketing vice-president Marc Ingla, says Rosell would

take the club backwards.

“With Rosell it would be like going back to 2000 or the last

century,” he said earlier this week.

“He wants to elect a sporting vice-president who knows nothing

about football, but who is his friend.

“He will have a technical secretary who isn’t Txiki

(Begiristain), but he won’t say who he is.

“He will interfere and he will take us backwards, he would make

a mess of the club’s (current) model.”

Laporta is supporting colleague Jaume Ferrer, who is the only

candidate still working in the current regime.

Ferrer is not expected to triumph, but says he is worried by the

other alternatives.

“They make me scared,” he said.

“They put everything we have achieved in danger. One bad move

could make our projects end up in the bin, the club’s Catalan

essence as well.”

The other candidate, Agusti Benedito, is also against Laporta’s

political stance, but says the current president’s model is a valid

one.

“Laporta has used the club as a political platform and for his

own personal benefit – that’s a big error,” he said.

“But the current model is a good one.”

Meanwhile, Barca legend Joan Cruyff says he is underwhelmed by

all of the candidates.

Whoever sits there (as Barca president) has a difficult task and

we’ll have to see if they know what they have to do,” he told

Television de Catalunya today.

“In the programmes that I have read, I have seen that they have

been trying to be nice to the socios, but I have not a seen a real

analysis of the functioning of the club.”

Under Rosell, Cruyff looks set to lose the title of honorary

president awarded to him earlier this year by Laporta.

“I don’t like the fact that such a big decision was taken behind

the socios’ backs,” he said.

One person who will definitely remain in his position is

Guardiola.

“We have the best coach in the world and I am sure we will keep

winning,” he said.

“(New Real Madrid coach Jose) Mourinho doesn’t worry me.”