Barcelona presidential candidate Agustí Benedito gave an interview to Spanish web portal Terra.
Can you introduce yourself to the club members, many of which still know little about you? Who are you?
From a Barcelona point of view, I'm involved with the club since 1996, when I met Jan Laporta and a large group of Catalans with a different background and different ideas but united by our concern for the club. From this group that didn't have electoral intentions, three people in the end got involved in the candidacy of Angel Fernández in 1997. Laporta, Perrín and I. This was our first electoral experience. A few months later, the three of us, plus another group of Barcelona fans organized the vote of no confidence against Núñez under the name 'Elefant Blau'. This was my second electoral experience. Finally in 2003, I was actively involved in the campaign that led to the presidency of Laporta. Since then, I have been linked with the club, having official responsibilities in the social and sports commissions until I quit a year ago. In summary, it has been 13 years, 7 before the mandate of Laporta, and 6 inside the club.
Why did you quit?
Although from the start some events made me see that the presidency of Laporta might not go as we had imagined, with a number of concrete episodes - some are public and others haven't been disclosed – in which I have been opposed to the decisions of Laporta, but since I am a committed person and it is very difficult to make me leave the ship, I stayed until February 2009. That's when I read a story in the press in which was explained that Laporta tried to mediate in the sale of Mallorca to a group that is domiciled in Switzerland but that is financed with Uzbek money, and that Laporta or his law firm would have got a fee of 4 million euros. I wait until I get the confirmation of the news, which happens at a press conference, and the day after I hand in my resignation. The president of the club cannot do business with a client of the club and get involved in an operation and obtain personal benefits from it. I am not prepared to allow that to happen.
Focusing on your project. What are the three basic ideas?
I feel a part of the original project of Laporta, that of 2003 in which I contributed. I believe in that project and when updated, it is still perfectly valid. And I think many members will agree with this assertion. There are several basic points of the first era of Laporta that have been forgotten. Ideas like transparency, participation of the members in the organs of the club, honesty in the behaviour of the directors and the assets policy of not selling properties.
By the latter, I understand that you disagree with the reclassification of the Miniestadi and the Foster plan.
We are against the sale of assets as a financial management tool, because we would only consider the sale of assets in circumstances of extreme necessity, which is not the case now. On the one hand, when a club is selling properties and reducing the fixed assets, you reduce the solvency ratio and that is the ultimate guarantee for the future stability of the club. When we sell, we impoverish the club and that will limit the operations in future years. It is about economic strategy. Then there is the issue of the practical use of assets. What happens is that some uses are not well defined. I think the football market is changing and that having undeveloped plots close to the Camp Nou allows us to have the ability and willingness to offer many services, that we will need to offer in the future to encourage the attendance at the stadium.
Looking at the future, when you have a city without big spaces to build like Barcelona, did you consider the possibility of removing the Camp Nou outside the city given that it could become unusable because of its current state?
Those are two different things. The Camp Nou is 53 years old and the remodelling is necessary and urgent. We will reform it, but leaving aside the Foster project. We will improve access, comfort, services, the use of new technologies. But this does not mean that the stadium has to be visible from the moon and has to economically condition us in the coming years. According to our studies, the reform of the Camp Nou and the new Palau will cost us more than 100 or 150 millions. And we will do this without selling assets.
Where will the new Palau be located?
Let me say that I hope we can stop the process of reclassification of the Miniestadi site, because that is one of the places where we plan to build it.
this was the first part of this interview. you can read the second part here and the third part here.
Benedito: "The media already have their favourites"
Board of Benedito will have 15 directors
Benedito putting emphasis on financial transparency