BarcelonaThe will of Joan Laporta’s board of directors is for assemblies to be held online regularly from now on, as will happen with this Sunday’s to approve the accounts for the 2021-2022 academic year and approve the budget of the season 2022-2023. Counting the current one, it will be the third in a row that will be celebrated with the telematic format. One of the main reasons given by the board for opting for this route is its cost. Face-to-face fees were close to a million euros and telematics remained at 100,000 euros. However, telematics, apart from the fact that now members can vote and ask questions from home, has not changed the operation of the event.
Because of this, some opinion groups in the Barcelona environment, among which there are several who participated in the motion of censure against Josep Maria Bartomeu two years ago, are asking for innovations to increase participation and democratize it even more. “There must be a very clear distinction between electronic voting and telematic assembly. The first option can be very valid for making general inquiries to the entire social mass with the right to vote, but it can never replace the added value that a face-to-face assembly has, both in terms of verbal language (right to ask, re-ask and express opinions, coinciding or divergent with the theses of the board of directors), as well as non-verbal (capturing glances, complicity and mismatches between the members of the board of directors, the set of arbitrators or both parties, and also murmurs, whistles or applause)”, Marc Cornet, spokesperson for the Seguiment FCB group, explains to the ARA.
In this sense, Cornet adds that “this direct connection between the board and the arbitrators should never be lost, because, if not, the established power finds it too easy to avoid divergence”. In October 2018, for example, the indignation of the compromise partners led Josep Maria Bartomeu to withdraw the vote on the renewal of the coat of arms and the tense climate ended up causing the modification of the statutes to remove the limit for requesting credits. On the other hand, Cornet wonders: “If everything has to be telematic, what’s the point of restricting the assembly to just a few members?” If the assembly is limited to just a few, it is because of a limitation of physical space that, electronically, no longer exists”. Ricard Faura, spokesperson for the Dignitat Blaugrana group, expresses himself in the same way. “The telematic assemblies are a great opportunity to democratize the club. This requires adapting the current mechanisms to this possibility. If telematics is used, it makes no sense to limit the number of representatives to a number designed to occupy a physical space”, he says.
Article 11 of the Catalan sports law allows big clubs such as Barça to use the figure of the intermediary member, but does not oblige them to use it: “In the case of sports clubs with more than 3,000 members, their statutes may provide for the operation of the general assembly by means of proxies. […] The use of the proxies formula is expressly prohibited in electoral processes and in the vote of no confidence”.
The new statutes that Barça is preparing
Therefore, to delete the figure of the intermediary partner, it would only be necessary for the assembly itself to vote for this option. Precisely, the board of Laporta has been working for some time on the renewal of some points of the statutes. One of them is the inclusion of telematic assemblies, a possibility that has not yet appeared. But, in the meantime, it is protected by a decree-law of the Generalitat de Catalunya. “Dealing with a live audience is more involved than dealing with screens. Rajoy faced the screens and it seemed horrible to all of us”, explains Marc Duch, president of Manifesto Blaugrana. “We have to recover the face-to-face part because it is there, physically, where the trustees can express themselves, comment on each other, see and experience the club 100%. And, at the same time, maintain an online presence, of course. Technically it is extremely simple, the technological operation is designed in an afternoon”, he adds. And, on the possibility that universal assemblies can be held, Duch says that “it is not a solution at the moment with the legal architecture that the club has and the composition and development structure of the assembly”. According to him, “it would be necessary to change the statutes, the calendars, the previous sessions and the development of the assembly to be able to carry it out in an operational and functional way”.
This Sunday, 4,451 compromise members are cited, representing 2.5% of all members; the club senators; the members of the board of directors; the members of the statutory commissions; the former presidents, and the presidents of the territorial federations of football clubs. In the two previous telematic assemblies, the vote that had the most participation was the ratification of Spotify’s sponsorship, with 704 votes cast.