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Joan Laporta has stepped up to the mark. The former Barça president will once again compete in the Catalan football club's election race. This morning, amidst the emblematic Barcelona architecture of the Hospital de Sant Pau, Laporta made official his pre-candidature for the elections for the presidency of FC Barcelona. Voting date is 24th January.

With the charisma that characterises him, Laporta thus goes into the ring again to seek the office he held from 2003 to 2010 - the start of the club's 21st century glory days. Under Laporta, Barça won two Champions Leagues and took Spain's La Liga four times.

Estimem el Barça - "We love Barça" - is the motto for his candidature. "Appealing to a spirit of hard work, enthusiasm and the club colours, I present my candidacy for the Barça elections," said Laporta. "We have a plan to get Barça back into the top echelon, and that plan is to work hard," he added.

"I am standing because I love Barça, I love the fans, I love La Masia [the club's youth programme] and I love the club. We have a plan to return Barça to the path of success and return it to the forefront of world football. And that’s why I need your support."— Joan Laporta Estruch

"I am optimistic and have a will to win. I want Barça to be admired everywhere again and for the joy to return to Barça supporters," he said. Quoting from the club hymn, he said "I want 'one flag to bring us all together' so that we can touch glory again and continue to make history".

"Becoming president again is the biggest challenge of my life," said Laporta. "I want to serve Barça again because they were the best years and because we have the preparation, experience and determination needed to make the changes that the club needs," he tweeted.

La Masia, values and a plan

Laporta affirmed that "we mustn't look back, let's have no reproaches". And he said that his project is focused especially on La Masia, the Barça youth scheme which in his era produced a golden generation: Messi, Piqué, Busquets... a world-beating team that was developed in the club's own incubator. In particular, he remarked, with the "values" of Barça.

“We’re not afraid of changes and having to do things that haven’t been done up till now won't hold us back,” he explained. Speaking about the economic state of the club, he admitted that "it's a dramatic situation, but we will reverse this situation with effort and hard work". "We have an action plan," he said.

Joan Laporta Barca Sergi Alcazar

Joan Laporta outside the Hospital de Sant Pau, presenting his pre-candidacy for the Barça presidency / Sergi Alcàzar

Experience as president

In the election race, Laporta comes out of the starting blocks in one of the pole positions, after his seven-year period as president from 2003 - a period marking the start of the best Barça in history, in two phases: Frank Rijkaard's team which won the Champions League in 2006, with Ronaldinho and Eto'o as stars, and then the start of the Pep Guardiola era, with the 2009 Champions League, the club's first "triplet" of Copa del Rey, Liga and Champions, and the rise of Leo Messi as Barça's absolute figure.  

He served two terms in succession, the maximum permitted. In 2015 he ran again, finishing second behind Josep Maria Bartomeu, after Luis Enrique's Barça had just won the second triplet. And now he returns to the fray, the only pre-candidate who has already been president.

In his speech, he also recalled Johan Cruyff who "staged a small revolution at Barça" and "taught us a tradition of good football taste" and how "to love ourselves as a club through a generous football with a spectacle unique in the world".

Pre-candidates are defined

Thus, the Barça election pre-campaign is almost ready for kick off, waiting only for Juan Rosell to decide whether to run or not. Apart from Laporta the candidates are: Víctor Font, Emili Rousaud, Agustí Benedito, Toni Freixa, Xavi Vilajoana, Jaume Ferrer, Lluís Fernàndez Alà and Pere Riera. Their names will have to pass a cut, by attracting a minimum number of club members' signed endorsements, before being officially proclaimed as candidates in the elections to the Barça presidency.


Main image: Joan Laporta during the presentation of his pre-candidacy for the Barça elections / Sergi Alcàzar