Joan Laporta has announced his intention to run for the Barcelona presidency and succeed Josep Maria Bartomeu.
Bartomeu resigned in October, dropping a bombshell about proposals for a European Super League as he exited. The election to determine his replacement takes place on 24 January.
Laporta is one of eight candidates for the post, alongside Victor Font, Toni Freixa, Agusti Benedito, Jordi Farre, Lluis Fernandez Ala, Xavier Vilajoana and Pere Riera. Here’s everything you need to know about him.
This would not be Laporta’s first stint as Barcelona president, having previously been at the helm between 2003 and 2010.
He oversaw a glittering period in the club’s history, as Barcelona stormed to four La Liga titles and two Champions League triumphs. The club became synonymous with reaping success with a cluster of home grown talent at the core, and Laporta was the man responsible for hiring a virtually un-tried and un-tested Pep Guardiola in 2008.
Barcelona subsequently enjoyed the finest season in the club’s history in 2008/09, finishing the year with a record six trophies. They are widely regarded as one of the greatest club sides of all time.
When running for the Barcelona presidency in 2003, Laporta was initially considered an outsider.
However, he won favour with his charisma and promise to bring Manchester United star David Beckham to Camp Nou.
Laporta eventually beat the favourite Lluís Bassat to the presidency, and Beckham joined Real Madrid. The new president compromised by signing Ronaldinho instead.
Despite the huge success Barcelona enjoyed during Laporta’s tenure, he was not always universally popular.
In June 2005, five members of the Barcelona board resigned, accusing Laporta of abusing his power as president.
Later that year, his brother-in-law Alejandro Echevarria – another member of the Barcelona board – was forced to resign after it emerged that he was a member of the Francisco Franco Foundation – an organisation which promotes support for controversial Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, a man not well liked in Catalonia due to the suppression of Catalan culture during his regime.
Laporta himself is a Catalan nationalist and a supporter of Catalonia independence. He has been accused of allowing his own political allegiances to interfere with the running of the club.
Laporta also faced a vote of no confidence shortly before hiring Pep Guardiola in the summer of 2008 after Barcelona had finished third in La Liga during the 2007/08 season, 18 points behind rivals Real.
Barcelona have long prided themselves on being the ‘people’s club’, and for the first 107 years of their history, they never had a shirt sponsor.
Laporta was the man to first introduce a name on the front of a Barcelona shirt, when in 2006 the club signed a five-year agreement with UNICEF and donated €1.5m to the charity.
The club have since made their first foray into commercial sponsors, signing a deal with the Qatar Foundation in 2011 – a move which prompted criticism from Laporta.
Upon announcing he intended to run for Barcelona presidency once more, Laporta has pledged to reinstate the club’s famous La Masia academy back to its former glory under the slogan of “You’ll Never Walk Alone’.
He has also talked up his ‘relationship of mutual respect’ with wantaway talisman Lionel Messi, and revealed his desire to bring Guardiola back to Camp Nou when he first announced his intention to stand in May – although Guardiola has since signed a new contract at Manchester City.
Laporta is the ex-boyfriend with absolutely no chill on social media whatsoever.
A quick trawl through his Instagram and Twitter accounts will show you he posts about nearly nothing else.
A throwback to the 2006 Champions League winning team on that all important 14-year anniversary? Of course. Retweeting endless Johan Cruyff and Pep Guardiola fan boy tweets? You bet.
There’s having the occasional, guilty, subtle social media stalk of your ex, and then there’s tweeting nostalgically about the former good times every day despite breaking up over a decade ago. You can’t fault his commitment.