After months of candidates expressing their interest, the Barcelona presidential election will be fought between four men: Joan Laporta, Victor Font, Toni Freixa and Emili Rousaud.
The club will hold elections on January 24 to determine the successor to former president Josep Maria Bartomeu, and anyone who wanted to run for the position needed to collect over 2,250 signatures of support.
As noted by Marca, the aforementioned quartet were the only candidates to hit that goal, and it was Laporta who was well out in front of the rest.
Laporta, who was president at Camp Nou between 2003 and 2010, racked up a whopping 10,257 signatures – only Sandro Rosell in 2010 has ever gained more support in the build-up to a club election.
It suggests that Laporta is the favourite to win the upcoming election, with none of his competitors even reaching half his total. Font managed 4,710, Freixa had 2,821 and Rousaud made it in with 2,501 signatures.
“We’re doing well, but we can’t rely on this, I don’t think about whether I’m a favourite or not,” Laporta declared. “I’m just concentrating on explaining our plans clearly.
“That is what I believe campaigning is, and I don’t care if it is against one, two or three opponents, I trust that the elections will be held, this mismanagement can’t be allowed any longer.”
One of Laporta’s plans is understood to be a reunion with former goalkeeper Victor Valdes. According to Mundo Deportivo, Laporta has made it clear that Valdes will be allowed to return to Barcelona, two years after he was fired from his position as youth-team manager.
During his time at the club, Valdes clashed with then-director Patrick Kluivert, and that breakdown in relationship saw the former goalkeeper leave his post after just three months. He has since been working with third-tier side Horta, but he is expected to leave that position in the near future.
While all the signs suggest Laporta may be in the clear for these elections, Font is expected to make some real noise because of his close relationship with Al-Sadd boss Xavi, who has been tipped to return to the club as manager in the near future and would be a hugely popular choice among fans.