Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has resigned after six years in the position and the remainder of the team’s board has stepped down. Club members were set to vote Sunday on whether to replace him following a petition garnering 20,000 signatures.
One of the world’s most valuable clubs, Barca finished second in La Liga last year before losing 8-2 to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinal. Manager Quique Setién was let go days later after being hired earlier in 2020. Barca also moved on from some of its biggest name players heading into this season.
Finishing without a title of any kind for the first time since 2008, Barca lost nearly €100 million during the 2019-20 campaign and hasn’t won the biggest prize in club soccer—the Champions League—since 2015. It now has almost €500 million in debt.
In April, six Barca board members resigned, disagreeing with Bartomeu’s leadership. More recently, Bartomeu feuded with superstar Leo Messi, who requested his release and briefly held out after 20 years with the organization before deciding against a legal battle.
Last week, Barca lost to rivals Real Madrid, 3-1.
The club will be run by temporary board leaders until a new election is held within the next 90 days. At a press conference Tuesday, Bartomeu said he decided to resign rather than force club members to cast votes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
An election was previously scheduled for 2021, when Bartomeu’s term would have ended.
“It’s been an honor to oversee this club,” he said.
On his way out, Bartomeu said that one of his last acts as president was accepting a spot in a potential European “Super League” featuring the continent’s biggest teams, pending club member approval. “The future European Super League will guarantee the sustainability of the club,” he said.
FC Barcelona, established in 1899, is owned by its roughly 150,000 members.