Rosell announces record Barcelona loss, lawsuit against Laporta
By Duncan Shaw Oct 16, 2010, 15:12 GMT
Madrid - Sandro Rosell, president of Spanish giants Barcelona, announced on Saturday that the club had incurred a record loss of 79.6 million euros (111.78 million dollars) last season - and a total debt of 430 million.
Rosell, who was elected in June with 69 per cent of the vote, made the announcement at Barca's annual general assembly of members, which then voted to approve his budget for this season.
He later proposed that Barca should file a lawsuit against previous president Joan Laporta because of his dubious book-keeping, a proposal which was approved by the assembly with 468 votes in favour and against 439, with 113 abstentions.
The closeness of the vote shows that the club is very divided between supporters of Rosell and of Laporta, the two former friends who have become bitter enemies after acrimoniously falling out in 2005.
Rosell said that 'this is the most important social decision in the history of the club. We are having a bad time because of this.'
Rosell said on Saturday that, upon taking over from Laporta in July, he had subjected the club's accounts to a process of due diligence undertaken by outside auditors.
'To know the truth is the only way to build a solid path,' said Rosell. 'We are clear about the path ahead, and it is one of transparency and austerity.'
He criticized the book-keeping of Laporta and claimed that it would take three years for the club to 'stabilize itself economically.' He then hinted that he would investigate how Laporta had spent the club's money.
Laporta, president from 2003 to 2010, claimed, upon handing over to Rosell in June, that the club had made a profit last season and was in 'excellent economic health.'
Laporta controversially refused to attend the assembly because, he claimed, he would not be given the chance to explain his accounts.
Rosell finished his speech by saying that 'we should look towards the future with optimism,' and announced a loan of 155 million euros from an unidentified bank.
He also promised to increase the club's income through merchandizing and sponsorship deals.
The Catalan media is worried that the ongoing feud between Rosell, 46, and Laporta, 48, will divide the Barca fans and even affect the performance of the team.
Barca, currently fourth in La Liga, are at home to leaders Valencia later on Saturday.
Saturday's assembly is the latest battle in the Rosell-Laporta war.
They worked together to oust the luckless Joan Gaspart from the Barca presidency in 2003. Laporta took over as president and chose Rosell as his vice-president in charge of sporting matters.
Rosell proceeded to build an attractive team around Brazilian idol Ronaldinho, a team which would win two Ligas and one Champions League. But Rosell resigned in 2005, accusing Laporta of becoming dictatorial - and of being too heavily under the influence of former Barca captain and coach Johann Cruyff.
Seven months ago, just before leaving the presidency, Laporta - to the chagrin of Rosell - controversially appointed his friend Cruyff as Barca 'President of Honour.'
One of the first decisions of Rosell, after sweeping to victory in June, was to annul the appointment of Cruyff, claiming that it had no basis in the club's statutes.
Laporta has claimed that Rosell is determined to destroy his reputation as the 'most successful president in Barca history', the man who guided the club to four league titles and two Champions League titles.
Laporta, who has founded his own separatist political party, will be a candidate in November's Catalan local elections. He is likely to bring a lawsuit against Rosell after the latter's hints on Saturday that he misspent Barca's money when president.
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