Bartomeu is on the move. He's not happy with the work of his board or the attitude of some of his directors. In fact, he would like to renew the board but he knows that the statutes don't allow it unless they resign. With regard to his four strong men, the vice presidents, he knows that the players, including Messi, can't stand the vice-president responsible for sport Jordi Mestre. That and the famous 200% phrase have sealed his fate. Manel Arroyo has taken a step back in recent months, and the current mess cannot be attributed to him. Jordi Cardoner is respected, but Bartomeu knows he wants to be president and this makes things awkward at times. Finally, Carles Vilarrubí is the one Bartomeu listens to most - perhaps because he's said to be one of the few who tells him what he thinks.
Of the others, the president has been in contact with Javier Bordas a lot this summer - the sporting director has played an important role in some signings and there are rumours he could replace Mestre. It's true that Bartomeu values the work of Joan Bladé, Pau Vilanova, Josep Ramon Vidal-Abarca and other members of the board but he's not happy with some of the most recent signings. That said, he is finding it hard to incorporate new faces and he has still been unable to replace Susana Monje as the vice president responsible for finance. A few years ago people paid to be a Barça director, no they won't even do it for money.
The friendship between Carles Puigdemont, the president of the Generalitat, and Joan Laporta, the ex-Barça president, is subject of a lot of conversations at Barça. People close to Bartomeu thinks Puigdemont wants Laporta as president again because he wants Barça to take a much firmer position on Catalan independence, and Laporta will deliver this. However, sources close to Puigdemont say that he already has enough on his plate. Puigdemont and Laporta met at the house of journalist Pilar Rahola this August, but claim that there was no mention of Barça at all. Indeed, there is a big difference between being friends and being co-conspirators in a plot to oust Bartomeu. Another person who concerns the current board is Jaume Roures, the owner of Mediapro. His legal battle with Rosell, his friendship with the Cruyffs and Laporta, his links with Manchester City and his business power suggest he is not among those loyal to Bartomeu.
TV3's reporting on the 'Free Seat' news opened an unprecedented conflict with Barça - never before has the relationship been so distant and fraught. The TV channel says that the dispute was started by the club not keeping its word on a series of issues but there are some at the club who believe that it is a campaign run by Vincent Sanchís, the director of TV3 and a friend of Laporta. Sanchís has always been critical of Bartomeu and Rosell's leadership and having TV3 and Catalunya Radio against the club does make things more difficult for the board. Maybe that's why there have been tentative steps towards a rapprochement this week...
Depsie the myriad legal troubles Bartomeu has, he knows that if results on the field are good, he will be fine. That's why the club tried until the end to bring players in. However, the president should reflect on why he is losing support from the media, from influential people in Catalan society and the fans in general. Something must be going wrong. Bartomeu won the elections due to the triple, but rivals have improved and even surpassed Barça since then. If the fans are chanting "Bartomeu out!" at the presentation of Dembélé, something is up.
Those loyal to the president can continue to say there's nothing to be done and it's all the fault of political or journalistic conspiracy, or they can face up to the problem. If they do the former, Bartomeu will soon be out of a job, if they do the latter, maybe he has a future at Barça. If he can recognise the errors that have meen bade, make changes and Bartomeu gets back to being the Bartomeu of his first few years, maybe there will be a miracle and he will reach the end of his term. It won't be easy.