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On 19 December Barça will make history as for the first time members will take a vitally important decision about the Club via an online vote, without conventional ballot boxes. "The online vote will be a great challenge," said president Joan Laporta at the presentation of the referendum on the financing of the Espai Barça in which the members will decide if they want to confirm the strong support given by the Assembly of Member Delegates to the financing plan on 23 October.
"The delegates were up to the job with a decision of great importance," admitted the president. "They understood that this is a great opportunity to keep growing and compete at the highest level. It is not a cost, it is an investment," insisted Laporta, who after explaining the reasons behind the Board of Directors' decision to revamp the project in which "in seven years 145 million euros have been invested but only 5% of the project has been carried out, we understand that our obligation is to finish off the project incorporating improvements that we understand are necessary to keep growing and compete at the highest level."
The president also explained the reasons for the Board of Directors deciding the referendum should be take place only electronically online. "Loyal to the more than 100 year old democratic tradition at the Club, we understood that we had to do this together. Online voting, because it will be a first and because we want to promote participation and open it up to members from all over the world.
"What we want is the verdict to be positive for the good of Barça. The fact that it is online makes us stronger to keep going in the coming years. We know that approval will represent a legacy for our children and grandchildren," ending with slogan from the campaign to promote participation: "If well vote, we will win!"
The Club's CEO, Ferran Reverter, explained the details of the financing, reminding everyone why the referendum is taking place: "To confirm what our members and member delegated approved by a healthy majority. The Assembly gave it great support, yet we understand that the size of the project means it needs a referendum for all members."
The CEO, furthermore, justified the figure of 1.5 billion euros that is requested to bring the project to life, with 600 million euros being approved in the referendum of 2014, a figure that is now out of date and undervalued, as is the project itself. "We estimate the inestment. It is a four year project and there can always be unforeseen circumstances. Now, due to the pandemic, construction costs have gone up by 10%. Maybe in a year's time than it will not be the case."
Playing at Montjuïc not discounted and rotating attendance
In the press conference following the presentation, Reverter also answered questions relating to the construction work at Camp Nou and its impact on attending home games for the members and fans. The CEO confirmed that the work would last four seasons and that "the first will be played at Camp Nou with the stadium partially closed as they did in Bilbao; the second season we will play away from Camp Nou and the last two we will play at Camp Nou with partially closed areas." The Club's idea is for when the stadium is not at full capacity, the season ticket holder will rotate attendance. Reverter did not discount the option of playing at the Olympic Stadium in Montjuïc during the second season of the work, but added "we have to decide where we will go as it will not be the first season but the second. Montjuïc is an option but we are also looking at internal solutions. What can discounted is playing "outside of the city or the urban area of Barcelona, we will not be going to Girona, for example."
With regards to naming and title rights for the stadium, Reverter admitted that the "Club is negotiating and evaluating various offers." He added: "It would be important to have it settled as soon as possible as it gives more credibility to the project in the eyes of investors. We are at an advance stage and we are looking at offers which go from 10 to 20 years. Obviously, we will include in the contract that in no more than 10 years we will be able to decide if we continue or not should the offer become outdated." The CEO confirmed that almost certainly the funding for the project would be led by Goldman Sachs. "They are acting as agents and they bring us the investors. In the last tender we carried out they were the best and so I don't think we will be changing."
Finally, with regards to if the figure of 1.5 billion euros is subject to change over time and costs increase, as has happened with the budget set in 2014, Reverter maintained: "We have tried to make an analysis of what has happened to other clubs to be realistic. We estimate 1.5 billion euros as there may be unexpected situations but we can control that. We think we have done our homework."
Online voting and security
Juan Manuel Tabero, IT director, explained how the online voting would take place. The Club will have the tech support of Minsait, who guarantee 'security and transparency.' The platform uses 'identification and authentication methods for members,' a process that includes five secret encoded keys for each of the five members of the Referendum Board, chosen at random from the members to guarantee the transparency of the process. Furthermore, the platform allows a quick count of the votes, guaranteeing anonymity for members voting. "The count takes one minute to process 10,000 votes, so, for example, if there were 80,000, it would take eight minutes. The process separates data," guaranteeing secrecy via encoding for the voters. "When the voting process is over and certified, that will be it."
Tabero concluded by outlining the importance of "personal details that we have of member being correct. A great part of the security come from this point, that the information is correct."
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