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The Members' Assembly 2019 started with a speech from President Josep Maria Bartomeu, who had the idea of 'More than a Club' as a driver. "We say that we are 'more than a club' when we win but also we used the phrase in the years when we suffered a drought, as a justification. We say that we are 'more than a club' because we are a different club that is owned by 140,000 members that participate in the big decisions," he began.
"We say that we are 'more than a club' because we have La Masia, because of our style of play, because we are a sports club that promotes women's sport. We say that we are 'more than a club' to explain a feeling, and our own values, because we represent a city and a country. There are also those who use 'more than a club' as a criticism of who manages the club, in order to say that Barça is no longer 'more than a club.' They are respectable opinions."
"Today, the motto 'more than a club' is a totally valid and demonstrated expression with facts, and with the reality known and accepted around the world," he continued, before listing the facts that make Barça 'more than a club' one by one.
"The list of the club's achievements are the pinnacle"
The first referred to the winning nature of the club, which has been particularly marked since 2004 with 34 titles won since then (22 with the current Board). "We have gone through changes, with different presidents, coaches and players, but Barça has continued to win. At the end of the day, the club's achievements are the pinnacle of our dimension as an entity," he added.
At this moment, Bartomeu reminded everyone about Tito Vilanova, and announced that the club is preparing a documentary about him.
He also highlighted the economic strength of the club. "This only gets spoken about when we're not doing well. But I want to say that things are going well. It's a fact: we are the club that has the most revenue generated in the world of sport." It should be remembered that on September 19, the club presented budgets that contemplated more than one billion euros in revenue.
In that sense, Bartomeu explained that "thanks to our strength we have been able to promote the Espai Barça, a project in which we have invested almost 80 million euros to date, and that already has its first full piece in place, the Johan Cruyff Stadium."
The president wanted to emphasise the innovative dimension of FC Barcelona; "We are pioneers in other aspects. Today, for example, we are a reference in the sports industry for our committed commitment to innovation, which we drive through the Barça Innovation Hub," and also wanted to remember that FC Barcelona, which will celebrate 120 years of history on November 29, continues to be "independent of political powers, economic powers and media powers."
At the same time, he wanted to mention the solidarity of the club, "another indisputable fact," according to Bartomeu. "Through our Foundation we focus our action on three broad strategic lines: the prevention of violence, social inclusion and access to education," he recalled.
The commitment of the club to its identity was the sixth point highlighted and linked to the idea of 'more than a club.' "We live in complex times but I am convinced that we have acted in defence of the country, of democracy, of freedom of expression and of the right to decide. We have defended the institutions that work to guarantee these rights with a very clear position, based on three principles: dialogue, respect and sport."
At this point, Bartomeu took the opportunity to give applause to former president Sandro Rosell, "mistreated by an unjustifiable prison sentence for two years."
For all these events, according to Bartomeu, "today's Barça is more successful, more economically and financially wealthy, more innovative and more committed."
Two great challenges for the future
Then he explained the two major challenges for the future of FC Barcelona: evolving from one winning generation to another and completing the Espai Barça project. "Neither can be completed before 2021 and both will demand us to continue working in the following mandate," he warned.
For the first point, he explained the need to "continue to renew the team to ensure a generational evolution naturally," something that has already been done in recent years to combat the loss of key players such as Puyol, Valdés , Xavi and Iniesta. In this regard, he recalled the importance of signing players such as Griezmann and De Jong, and to place trust in the squad, with players such as Ansu Fati, Carles Pérez and Riqui Puig as great options for the future.
On the second point, that of Espai Barça, Bartomeu announced that "we are currently working on specifying the financing structure of the rest of the works" and that, once this happens, a new Assembly will be convened for the process to be explained, details given and to submit it to vote. "It will respect the two red lines that we demanded from the referendum: we should never mortgage our estate, our assets, or the current income of the club," he concluded.
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