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Joan Laporta is looking for a CEO who executes and doesn’t argue

BarcelonaThe atmosphere in Joan Laporta’s office is calmer since Ferran Reverter left his position as CEO at Barça in February. The quarrels between the president and the executive over the way the club was governed caused an added tension in the day-to-day life of the organization which, since then, has dissipated. The reason is that Laporta has ceased to have within Barça the only person with a high rank who had the will to regularly question his decisions. Without the former CEO of Mediamarkt, Laporta has had no problem declaring himself executive president, stating that he intends to take Barça as a “family company” and strengthen his presidentialism.

Reverter’s departure meant that the manager and treasurer of the club, Ferran Olivé, took on more importance in decision-making and was placed just below the president in Barça’s executive organization chart. But Laporta needs more of Olivé in this role – the manager also commands a chain of medical consultations – and, after letting himself be advised by his trusted people, he believes that the most suitable solution is to reinstate the figure of the general manager. “Olivé has devoted himself more to the economic and financial section, but the organizational part is still lame. Laporta needs a manager figure who executes what the board decides”, they explain to ARA from the institution’s offices. “Department heads are often unaware of what happens in other departments”, they add.

Therefore, the profile that Laporta is now looking for is very different from that of Ferran Reverter. Barça’s frenetic activity means that as executive president he cannot do everything in an organization where the amount of issues to manage is enormous. Thus, the new general manager – Laporta prefers to use this term instead of CEO – would be in charge of being a day-to-day help and would be more of a person to execute the decisions than to discuss them. With a role, therefore, more similar to that developed by Òscar Grau during the mandate of Josep Maria Bartomeu than that of Reverter. In fact, Grau himself explained before the judge during his statement as investigated for the Barçagate case that he was only dedicated to signing what was requested of him from above and that he was no one to bring the opposite to the president

Laporta is looking within Barça itself

Laporta’s idea is to use the first men’s soccer team’s stoppage in World Cup contention to find a new general manager, although no deadline has been set. Of course, there are already several options on the table. After interviewing some candidates from outside the club, the focus is now being placed within the Barça organizational chart. “In the past there was talk of Xavier Budó [cap de l’àrea d’esports] and Alex Barbany [integrant del departament de l’Espai Barça], but both ended up being ruled out”, they say from the Camp Nou. “Two figures who could also fulfill the role of manager are Joan Sentelles and Josep Maria Messeguer. The problem is that they now lead two of the club’s most important areas: Barcelona Licensing & Merchandising (BLM) and Espai Barça, respectively,” they add. Another internal option is to promote Maribel Meléndez, corporate director of the entity, who, despite her great harmony with Reverter, has resisted the executive structure and is a key figure in the negotiations with Goldman Sachs. Now, in addition, it is freer after the entry of Manel del Río as financial director.

The fourth director general of Laporta

If Laporta finally appoints a new general manager, it will be the fourth he will have as president of Barça. During his first term he had two: Anna Xicoy and Joan Oliver. Xicoy, current deputy general manager of operations at Barcelona Serveis Municipals (BSM), became in 2004 the first woman to hold this position in the club’s history after having been financial director for a year. Previously, the person who had performed this function during Laporta’s first steps in the presidency was the then economic vice-president Ferran Soriano. Xicoy left the position in 2008 and was replaced by Joan Oliver, who had previously directed TV3 and had arrived at the Barcelona club in 2007 to take charge of the New York office. He stayed there until 2010, when Sandro Rosell won the elections.

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