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Barcelona President Faces Vote of No Confidence Following Further Stumbles in the Transfer Market

A vote of no confidence against Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to go ahead within the next few weeks after club members reached the required amount of signatures for the motion to go through.

The move to replace Bartomeu comes after six-time Ballon d’Or winner Lionel Messi sent a burofax in August saying he wanted to leave the club. Messi has since changed his mind amid reported threats of legal action from Barcelona and has said that he will stay with the club for another season.

At least 16,521 confirmed votes (10 percent of total members) were required for the motion of censure to be put into motion and the number of validated signatures has now exceeded that amount after nine days of counting.

Over 20,000 members had signed the motion by mid-September, but they needed to be verified by a commission put together by the club before passing to the next stage.

Barca must now fix a date, within the next 20 days, for a referendum to be held among the club's 154,000 members.

Presidential hopeful Jordi Farre, who is behind the petition, said that the Messi situation was the tip of the iceberg and accused the president and Barca's board of directors of years of mismanagement.

More than 66.6 percent must vote against Bartomeu for him to be removed. If that happens, the club will then have to hold an election to elect a new president, with Farre among those who will run. Other candidates may include former president Joan Laporte.

On two previous occasions, Barca has held similar referendums - in 1998 and again in 2008. Both presidents survived the vote of no confidence.

The pressure on Bartomeu has risen in the last year following a disappointing campaign in the transfer window.

In recent weeks the club has sold many of its top players with third-all-time-leading-goal-scorer Luis Suarez going to Atletico Madrid, in a move heavily criticised by Messi. Croatian striker Ivan Rakitic to Sevilla, Chilean international Arturo Vidal moving to a resurgent  Inter, and Rafinha switching to Champions League runners up Paris Saint-Germain for a bargain basement price of just €3 million.

Barca also wanted to sell €105 million flop Ousmane Dembélé to Manchester United but the player reportedly refused to agree to a move to England.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has been frustrated by the lack of transfer activity amid failed deals to sign central defender Alex Garcia from Manchester City and forward Memphis Depay from Olympique Lyon respectively.

Under Bartomeu’s stewardship, the club is in financial turmoil with losses of €97 million last season despite reaching the semi- finals of the Champions league and coming second in La Liga. Crucially, the club's net debt has more than doubled to €488 million.

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