Joan Laporta has won the Barcelona presidential election by a landslide.
The 58-year-old beat rivals Victor Font and Toni Freixa with more than 54 per cent of the vote. Font gained just short of 30 per cent while Freixa earned just over eight per cent.
Laporta was previously president during one of the club’s most successful periods; earning 12 trophies between 2003 and 2010 including a famous treble under Pep Guardiola and with Lionel Messi as talisman.
Keeping the Argentina star will be his biggest, immediate priority. Messi was pictured casting his vote earlier in the day along with team-mates such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba.
Messi – a target for Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – has publicly discussed his uncertainty over the club’s direction, and hopes the next president of Barcelona has a clear plan to return them to former glory
Former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who was was among four ex-Barcelona officials arrested in a corruption probe by Catalan police last weekend, also cast his vote at the Nou Camp.
Bartomeu spent the night at a Catalan police station after being detained along with current chief executive Oscar Grau, director of legal services Gomez Ponti, and advisor to the president Jaume Masferrer.
Despite the scandal, Barca were looking to make the vote a positive occasion, hoping the next president can lay out a path back to domestic and European dominance; and one that will include their talisman Messi.
By the opening of in-person voting at 9am on Sunday, more than 20,000 of the 110,290 members had cast theirs by postal ballot. The initial vote was supposed to take place on January 24 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The club set up six locations for voting in order to manage safe social distancing measures; at the Nou Camp, in Girona, Lleida, Tarragona, Tortosa and Andorra.