Josep Maria Bartomeu, who has been in charge of the club since former president Sandro Rosell's resignation in January 2014, was the clear favourite when the presidential race started over six weeks ago. Having just achieved the treble on the back of a glorious season from the Lionel Messi/Neymar/Luis Suarez trident in Luis Enrique's first season is certainly the strongest point on the Catalan businessman's favour.
However, Bartomeu's advantage at the top of the polls has been gradually reduced due to unpopular decisions, such as the club's lucrative sponsorship deal with Qatar Sports Investments, having to stand trial on charges of tax fraud in the signing of Neymar and having Barcelona's transfer ban issued on his watch.
Former president Joan Laporta, after five years spent in politics as part of Catalunya's independence effort, decided to enter the race for Barca's presidency once again. Despite the Bartomeu/Rosell front considering the move an act of revenge for taking Laporta to court demanding the €48 million he supposedly lost the club between 2003 and 2010 -- a claim that the judgedismissed as untrue -- Laporta maintains that his only interest is taking the Catalans back up to the top at both a sporting and an institutional level.
READ the full column "Bartomeu, Laporta race for Barcelona presidency heating up" by Francesc Tomas for ESPN here.
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