Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu and the club’s entire board have resigned from their positions with immediate effect.
Bartomeu announced the decision at a press conference on Tuesday evening at the Nou Camp, following a board meeting in Catalonia on Monday after the 3-1 El Clasico defeat to Real Madrid.
Bartomeu said on Monday that “quitting the club had never crossed my mind”, so it represents a remarkable change of events.
The pressure from supporters towards Bartomeu intensified this summer when Lionel Messi threatened to leave the club.
Despite staying, Messi accused Bartomeu of lying to him and criticised the club for not having a project.
Bartomeu’s seven-year term was coming to an end in March 2021 but a censure motion was being brought against him by club members on November 1.
A total of 16,500 supporters had signed a motion to have Bartomeu removed from his position with a vote due to be held by 154,000 members. More than 66.6 per cent of the vote would have ousted the 57-year-old.
A poor start to the season for Barcelona, who lost out to Real by five points at the top of La Liga last season, has forced his hand. Saturday’s defeat saw them trail their rivals by six points.
Saturday’s result followed criticism from Gerard Pique, who criticised the handling of Messi’s contract situation.
Gerard Pique said: “I ask myself How can it be that the best-ever player to have played the game, who we have been lucky enough to enjoy, wakes up one day and sends a Burofax (recorded delivery mail) because he feels like he’s not being listened to?
“It’s all too confrontational. What’s going on. Messi deserves everything; the new stadium should be named after him first and then the sponsor. We should preserve our figureheads, not underappreciate them. It really gets to me.”
Pique’s criticism was the last of a series of controversies in 2020. Barcelona have also had three managers this calendar year; Ernesto Valverde and Quique Setien were followed by current boss Ronald Koeman. Former sporting director Eric Abidal also left the club in August.
The announcement comes on the eve of Barcelona’s Champions League fixture with Juventus in Turin.