After years of silence, former Barcelona presidential candidate Lluis Bassat has spoken out against Joan Laporta and the direction of the financially embattled club.
After losing the election to Joan Gaspart in 2000, Bassat lost again in 2003 to then outsider Laporta, whose tenure oversaw the transformation of Barcelona before returning in 2021 with the club on the brink of bankruptcy.
While the 80-year-old advertising pioneer concedes his window to be Barcelona’s president has closed, he believes the club’s financial direction to balance the books has prompted him to come out in public.
In an interview with La Vanguardia, Bassat believes that Barcelona must not try to match the financial powers of Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester City at the expense of their identity.
“One of the things that makes Barca special is that it’s owned by its members and I wouldn’t lose that for the world,” he said. “My fear is that putting the club in funds like Goldman Sachs and companies like that will one day convert their debt into equity and they end up being the owners.
“We have to avoid that. Football is changing. Clubs with sheikhs and Chinese owners and billionaires. We can’t compete with that, but we have to keep up.”
“Its potential is huge and I don’t see anyone taking advantage of it. You have to show that Barča has a soul and show it.”
Bassat added that the club should have done what they could to keep Pep Guardiola and Lionel Messi, but extended his criticism towards Barcelona’s philosophical vacillation on the pitch, believing it had put the club in such unstable financial straits.
Although he hopes Barcelona’s partnership with Spotify is “transparent”, Bassat went on the attack when asked if the club should sign Robert Lewandowski, amid reported links to the Bayern Munich star.
“Yes, 10 years ago. Not today, he will be 34,” he said. “During these 20 years, there were great moments that coincided with the growth of Pep Guardiola, but also terrible moments. Those hundred and something million signings for unproven players, players who have nothing to write home about with a net income of 10 million euros.”
“In what profession do you earn that? On the other hand, Messi, our ‘super crack’, we already had him at La Masia and what hurt me the most was that he left Barca. Barca has one thing that none of these clubs have and that must be multiplied by ten. We have La Masia. This is where players as special as Messi come from.
“It’s not about being like Athletic [Bilbao], but in the long term I would invest in La Masia and turn it into a dream place for all the youth players in the world.”