Laporta signs 'in extremis' the 124.6 million guarantee to become Barça president
The president-elect and his team will be sworn in on Wednesday
BarcelonaNine days after winning the Barça elections, Joan Laporta has finally been able to close the 124.6 million euro guarantee to take office. The entry on the scene of José Elías, the president of Audax Renovables, advanced on Sunday by the ARA, has allowed to unravel a key point that has put at risk even the investiture of the elected president. Finally, the time has come and this Tuesday afternoon it has been possible to formalise the endorsement and, during the evening, to sign all the paperwork. One last step remains. The documents will be sent to La Liga and, once validated, it is hoped that Laporta and his directors, who won the elections with more than 30,000 votes, can be sworn in this Wednesday afternoon at the Camp Nou.
The photograph of Joan Laporta and José Elías, taken in the Barça president-elect's professional office, dispelled the spectre of a repeat election. It has not been easy because, despite an initial pact, negotiations between the two had broken down. Finally, they were redirected in time. Elías, who will provide the guarantee money - more than 40 million - will not be on the board as he does not have the necessary five years' seniority. But he will be replaced by Eduard Romeu, who will occupy the seat left vacant by Jaume Giró when, as ARA reported, he surprisingly resigned from the board six days after the elections. Pending confirmation, Romeu will be second vice-president, in charge of finance. The first vice-presidency will go to Rafael Yuste, a man of Laporta's utmost confidence.
A stressful last day
The last few hours have been hectic. The new board has been in contact with many businessmen to try to enter the club in exchange for contributing to the guarantee - some of them, knowing the situation, have also contacted Laporta's team to offer to do so. Few conversations have been productive, but enough to achieve the objective of the new board. In addition to Romeu, Joan Soler, president of CF Vilafranca, and two or three other directors are expected to join the board. The names will be confirmed on Wednesday during the inauguration. On a legal level, the members of the board who were not on the electoral list will be able to exercise their position without problems but will have to be ratified at the next assembly.
During the afternoon, the new members of the board received the go-ahead from Banco Sabadell, the bank that has ended up preparing the guarantee. But the deadline was running out and there was no time to waste. The guarantors rushed to get all the documentation to the notary's office, which worked late into the night to get everything ready. At eight o'clock in the evening, Laporta left his office to sign. Later, the other members of the team did the same. There were also, according to Catalunya Ràdio, businessmen who had helped to complete the endorsement - in a minority percentage - without joining the board, and who in return would receive financial compensation. The last to do so was Elías, who ended up completing the guarantee with the necessary money. All this went on until after midnight.
More problems than usual
The problems in obtaining the guarantee are accentuated by the unexpected departure of Jaume Giró, just six days after the elections -officially "for work reasons"-. The big obstacle is that Banco Sabadell has been extremely prudent considering Barça's economic situation. This, and the fact that the directors who were initially part of the project could only raise 50 million in personal assets. In addition, and according to El Confidencial, the bank did not accept shares of companies operating on the stock exchange as collateral. Therefore, alternative ways had to be found. And one of these was a US fund that guaranteed the 70 million. However, in exchange for a very high interest rate - around 6 million per year. "We have to try to avoid the Americans", was the slogan that ran through the members of the candidacy. In the end, this emergency option did not have to be used.
However, not all board members were happy with the terms of the guarantee that was signed with Sabadell and explored alternatives. But there was no time left to reach any other agreement. Almost five months later, with more intrigue than usual, and provided that La Liga does not raise any last-minute obstacles, Barça will close its interim period this Wednesday and Joan Laporta will be, to all intents and purposes, the new president of the club.