Barcelona’s controversial President Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned on Tuesday night.
The 57-year old faced the prospect of becoming the first President in the club’s history to be voted out by the 20,000 members.
Having failed to persuade the Catalan government that a no confidence vote against him should be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, he decided to quit when they refused, knowing that the numbers were against him.
To succeed the motion needed a 66% majority, and campaigners claimed that more than 80% were opposed to him continuing in office.
Bartomeu has been accused of overseeing a major decline in the club’s fortunes on and off the pitch.
Last season was their first since 2008 that the club finished without any silverware, culminating in their 8-2 defeat at the hands of Bayern Munich in the Champions League in Lisbon in August.
Nor have things improved much under new manager Ronald Koeman this season. They were beaten by Real Madrid at home in the first El Clásico of the season on Saturday and find themselves currently languishing in the unfamiliar position of 12th in the league table.
Meanwhile, off the pitch, Bartomeu has presided over a major decline in the club’s finances, with money spent on expensive imports like Antoine Griezmann, Philippe Coutinho, and Ousmane Dembélé all of whom have failed to justify their price tags.
The financial impact of the pandemic has made the situation worse and they will have to sell many of their best players to help balance the books.
However, Bartomeu’s greatest failure, in the eyes of many Barcelona fans, has been how he has treated Lionel Messi, the club captain and talisman.
Messi wanted to leave the club at the end of August, claiming he had an agreement in place with Bartomeu that allowed him to do so for free. However, Bartomeu then reneged on that agreement and said that the Argentine could only leave if somebody met his €700 million release clause.
Messi stayed and will see out his contract, but the hostility between the two men has been barely concealed since then. Even before Saturday’s game with Real, Messi’s teammate Gerard Piqué described the club’s treatment of the Argentine forward as disgraceful.
The first order of business for whoever takes over from Bartomeu will be to try and mend fences with Messi.