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Puyol, votant en el Referèndum. FOTO: MIGUEL RUIZ-FCB.

A total of 180 electoral tables have been open since 9 o’clock this morning for the referendum on the New Espai Barça. The question being voted on is: “Do you agree with the proposal for the New Camp Nou, the Espai Barça and the New Palau Blaugrana?” The more than 118,000 members registered on the census will decide whether to accept the large-scale remodelling of the Camp Nou and the construction of a basketball pavilion plus a new stadium for the reserve and youth teams. By 1 pm, some 11,730 members had cast their votes (9.89% of the census).

Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu had voted an hour earlier and told us. “Today is a great day for Barça democracy. It’s a chance for the membership to show the whole world that at Barça we vote when there’s an important decision to be taken”. Many of the players had also already voted prompting the president to remark: “It’s yet another example of how our players really feel part of this Club and express their opinions on a day like today when we are deciding on the future of Barça”.

Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Piqué, Pedro, Cesc and Busquets

During the morning, a number of first team players such as Xavi, Iniesta, Puyol, Piqué, Pedro, Cesc and Busquets arrived at the Camp Nou to cast their votes as Club members before joining the rest of their team-mates ahead of tonight’s match against Betis. Players and coaches from the other sports sections, including basketball captain Joan Carles Navarro and coach Xavi Pascual, also joined the stream of members waiting to deposit their votes.

Today’s referendum will decide the fate of the Espai Barça, a project scheduled to start in the summer of 2017 and continue until the beginning of 2021, and costing some 600 million euros (725 million dollars). 420 million euros will be devoted to a wide scale remodelling of the main stadium which will include cover for every tier and an increase in capacity to 105,000 seats. There would also be a new multi-sport pavilion with a capacity for 12,000 spectators, a new Miniestadi at the Ciutat Esportiva and a reorganisation of the areas surrounding the stadium. The project was made public on 5th March and since then more than 50, 000 people have taken the opportunity to find out about it at first hand.

This referendum is the second in the Club’s history. The first took place in 1950, when the country was suffering under the dictatorship of General Franco and democratic rights were non-existent. Despite this, the Board of the day called on the membership to decide whether they wanted to move from the then Corts stadium and build a new one, the Camp Nou.

Declarations made by Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu

Declarations made by Club president Josep Maria Bartomeu immediately after casting his vote in the referendum: “At Barça we vote when there’s an important decision to be taken”

“Today is a great day for Barça democracy. It’s a chance for the membership to show the whole world that at Barça we vote when there’s an important decision to be taken”.

“It’s yet another example of how our players really feel part of this Club and express their opinions on a day like today when we are deciding on the future of Barça”.

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