Former FC Barcelona president Agustí Montal dies

Former FC Barcelona president Agustí Montal dies

The president of the club from 1969 until 1977 passes away at the age of 82

FC Barcelona expresses its sorrow for the death of Agustí Montal Costa (1934-2017), president of the club between 1969 and 1977, who left us on Wednesday at 82 years of age. FC Barcelona wishes to convey its deepest condolences to the family, with whom they are sharing these moments of pain, along with members, supporters of the Club and the world of football.

Agustí Montal Costa was the oldest living president of the Club, holding the presidency from 1969 to 1977. His name is closely linked with the strictly Catalan position of the club in the last years of Franco, the signing of Johan Cruyff and winning the league in 1973-74, after 14 years without winning the title. The surname Montal is of great significance in the history of Barça, as Agustí Montal Costa was the son of Agustí Montal Galobart, who was also president of the Club from 1946 to 1952. In fact, it is the only case in the history of club in which a father and son have been presidents.

Born in Barcelona on 5 April of 1934 to a family of textile businesspeople, he studied to become an industrial engineer. From a young age he began to play various sports such as hockey, tennis, football, in addition to racing with his brothers in Arenys de Mar. In 1958 he married Anna Prat, with whom he had four daughters and a son. In 196,4 his father died and at just 30 years of age had to take care of Industrial Montalfita, which was the centre of their business until the crisis of the textile industry led to its closure in 1989.

As a Barça fan, Montal experienced from a young age some of the club’s greatest successes but also the drought of the 60s. In 1968, Montal was one of the three vice-presidents of the club headed by Narcís de Carreras. This did not last long and in December 1969, Montal was elected president. Many believed that Montal was not strong enough to carry the club forward, but a few months after the election his firmness was put to the test. The first major conflict was the famous penalty unjustly awarded by referee Guruceta in June 1970. Faced with that injustice, Montal complained to the sports authorities that this was part of a set of decisions that systematically harmed the club. It was the first time that the club formally expressed its displeasure to the sports authorities who were not accustomed to any public protest.

Montal would again have a dispute with the federation when it did not accept the signing of two native players (descendants of Spaniards), when it had done so for signings made by other clubs. He commissioned a report from attorney Miquel Roca to show that many of the alleged natives were not. With the strength of this report, it obtained its true objective, which was that the federation would open the door to the signing of foreign players. This step was essential to achieve its greatest success: the signing of Johan Cruyff in the summer of 1973.

With the arrival of Cruyff came new sporting hopes for the club, with that brilliant 1973/74 season. It was Montal’s happiest year as president, with the 0-5 win at the Santiago Bernabéu and the league title wrapped up with five games to spare. It was a huge shock for a team that had not won the title for fourteen years, and that in the first term of Montal only won the Copa del Generalissimo in 1971 and got to the final of the Fairs Cup the same year. The presidency of Montal should also be known for his support of the club’s other sections, and the construction of the Palau Blaugrana and the ice rink, inaugurated in October 1971.

During his presidency of the club, Montal accentuated its Catalanisation within the limits of the final years of the Franco dictatorship. He promoted a club newsletter that introduced the Catalan language, printed membership cards in Catalan and was called to order by the civil governor for using Catalan over the PA at the Camp Nou. He the motto "more than a club" his own, which was used in his re-election campaign in 1973. 

It should also be noted that, in his tenure, the club supported the Meeting of Supporters Clubs, especially the events for the 75th anniversary, which identified the club with the avant-garde poster by Joan Miró. The 75th anniversary presided by Montal left a permanent legacy, the ‘Cant del Barça’ (the Barça hymn). In all these social issues, the mandate of Montal culminated during the transition, when it proposed to the members meeting in April 1977 that the club demand the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia, and the reception at the Camp Nou in October 1977 of the exiled president of the Generalitat, Josep Tarradellas.

Montal had said many times that he was a president for a few years but that this status would never leave him, and others always saw him as a former club president. Despite holding various other occupations after his time with the club, he was always seen as the former Barça president.

He was a gentle man, close with supporters and journalists, and tried to downplay the conflicts. Perhaps that is why in the last sentences of his memoirs he said, "I try to laugh and make people laugh."

On Friday a space will be dedicated at Camp Nou to the memory of Agustí Montal to allow people to pay tribute to him and say their final goodbye. 

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