Opening up and the fight for democracy (1952-1977)

Opening up and the fight for democracy (1952-1977)

In this chapter we look at the presidential elections at FC Barcelona between 1952 and 1977, an era replete with key events that help us understand the Club as it is today

On 16 July 1952 Agustí Montal i Galobart transfers power to his vice president Enric Martí Carreto leaving behind him a great presidential legacy: consolidating the team’s position in the elite of Spanish sport thanks to the victories in the league in 1948 and 1949 as well as the Barça of the 5 Cups in 1952 and the purchase of the land to build Camp Nou following the first ever referendum in the Club’s history.  

Martí Carretó had been acting as president of the director’s council for the previous two year but after the elections in May 1952 he became Barça president. The elections were called on 23 April 1952 when the board approved some unusual regulations for taking part which were recorded in the minutes of the Boar’s meetings. “The calling of elections is agreed in line with the Spanish Football Federation. As such the following regulations are approved: First: The right to take part in these elections, as well as to be proclaimed a candidate, belongs to all adult male members up until number 30,122, that is to say, all members who have links to the club for at least two years and have access to social rights.”  

The regulations excluded women and establish a minimum of 1,305 guarantees to be proclaimed a candidate. This last requisite was decisive as on 16 July Enric Martí Carretó was chosen president of FC Barcelona without opposition as his rival, Esteve Felip Ferrer, did not fulfil the aformentioned conditions.  

During the summer of 1953 an episode took place that served to feed the belief that the sporting authorities of the country’s regime only had eyes for the capital given that however much the Barça directors supported the regime, the result never seemed to change. After a shady behind the scenes turn of events, Alfredo DStéfano joined Real Madrid despite the blaugranes being intially well placed to sign the Argentine. The ill feeling brought about by the affair led the resignation of Martí Carretón on 28 September 1953 due to pressure from both internal and external sources for having accepted the conditions imposed by the national sporting authorities with regards to the Di Stéfano saga.  

László Kubala and Alfredo Di Stéfano in 1953. Autor: Ramón Dimas / Vida Deportiva.

A managing commission took control of the Club with the aim of calling elections as soon as possible. On 7 October 1953 the election details were officially announced in the press, the regulations following more or less the precedents set in previous elections. This time, two candidates made the cut and on 14 November 1953 elections took place for the first time with all male members allowed to vote for the first time in the Club’s history.  

The aspiring candidates were 35 year old Francesc Miró-Sans and 71 year old Amat Casajuana. Miró-Sans was a businessman from the textiles industry who had been part of the short lived board under Martí Carretó. His role as part of the ‘Movimiento Nacional’ meant he had a good relationship with the Franco regime. Amat Casajuana, for his part, was an industrial engineer who had fulfilled various roles under president Arcadi Balaguer in the 1920s. For the main part, the campaign focused on the pressing need for a new home with room for more fans. Curiously enough, both Miró-Sans and Casajuana agreed on the necessity of a new stadium despite the latter’s initial reluctance. During the 1950s the number of FC Barcelona members increased notably from 26,300 to 52,791 in the period 1950-1961.  

The new electoral condition led to an unprecedented turnout with 17,241 members exercising their right to vote. Miro-Sans claimed victory by a margin of just 301 votes, however, the voting process was far from exemplary. Aside from the exclusion of female members, voters could cast a vote for every members’ card they were in possession of, with the card’s owner not necessarily present.  

The regulations for the 1953 elections did not last long with the authorities far from happy with what had happened with regards to voting. Therefore, until the end of the dictatorship, the voting system for FC Barcelona presidential elections would take the form of votes from members’ representatives chosen by lottery as well as votes from members of ‘merit’ and former presidents.  

With the new regulations in place and with the boost given by a recently opened Camp Nou, Miró-Sans once again triumphed in the elections held on 7 January 1958, beating his rival Antoni Palés by 158 votes to 55 votes.  

The financial crisis brought by the construction of the Camp Nou stadium as well as divisions amongst members with regards to the figure of the president, a man with authoritarian traits, led Francesc Miró-Sans to resign on 28 February 1961.  

A managing commission led by Antoni Julià de Capmany, vice president of the exiting Board of Directors, took control of the club on a temporary basis in the midst of a grave sporting, social and financial crisis. In order to ease the economic pressure on the organisation, Luis Suárez was sold to Internazionale of Milan for the not inconsiderable in those days sum of 25 million pesetas.  

Elections were called for 7 June 1961 and two former directors from the Miró-Sans presidency decided to stand. Enric Llaudet, a textile engineer, defeated Jaume Fuset, a jewel trader, by 122 votes to 98 votes.  

On the challenges facing the Enric Llaudet presidency was to negotiate the revaluation of the land at Camp de les Corts. These negotiations, prior to any future sale, took time and it was not until May 1966 that the Club was able to receive the 226 million pesetas paid by the real estate group Habitat.  

With the project to revaluate the land well under way, Llaudet was well positioned to do well in the elections called for 15 May 1965. His victory came thanks to a vote of 164 to 53 over his opponent, Josep Maria Vendrell.  

At the start of the 1967/68 season, a series of events brought president Enric Llaudet to call elections for 1 September 1967, elections at which he declined to stand. Amongst the most significant of these events were the failure to include critical voices in the consultative body and the controversy brought about by statements from a frustrated technical secretary Casildo Osés claiming his contract was brought to an end because he was not Catalan.  

Llaudet’s resignation represented the end of an era and the Barça figures of influence searched for a man of consensus to govern the Club. The candidate needed to able to bring together the varying sensibilities of Barça fans and on a socio-political level, needed to be seen as a man of confidence by the authorities yet at the same time have links to Catalan society in the second half of the 1960s; a society that was taking small steps towards a reclamation of civic spaces via democratic means.  

The man chosen was Narcís de Carreras, who on 17 January 1968, without the need of elections as he was the only candidate to stand, became president. De Carreras had been vice president under Montal, Galobart and Martí Carreto and in his youth he had had political affiliations with the Lliga Regionalista, despite the fact that later on he fell in line with the Francoist doctrine of the day.  

In his inaugural speech as president, made in Catalan at the events room at the ‘Foment de Treball Nacional’, De Carreras used the phrase More than a club’ for the very first time in front of the members’ representatives gathered before him. Those words were echoed in various media of the day such as the ‘Revista Barça’. “I come to the presidency of Barcelona with all the enthusiasm that you could ask for. Barcelona is more than a football club, Barcelona is more than a place where people go on Sundays to see the team play: more than all those things, it is a spirit that we all have deep inside of us, colours that we love more than anything else.”  

A poor season in the 1968/69 campaign on the field, tensions amongst fans off it and with a divided board due to a lack of confidence of certain members in coach Salvador Artigas - some of whom even travelled to Italy to hold talks with Helenio Herrera – led to the resignation of Narcís de Carreras on 5 November 1969. In the minutes of the board meeting that day, the secretary writes in reference to the position of the president: “He considers that a state of tension has been reached, looking at the results of the team, which makes normal management unsustainable, taking into account the unity that there needs to be in a directing body.” The resignation led to the calling of more elections for the FC Barcelona presidency on 18 December 1969.  

After the candidates Josep Campabadal and Josep Domènech abandoned the race, the elections came down to a head-to-head battle between Agustí Montal i Costa and Pere Baret i SabaterThe two men had come face to face before in the board presided over by Narcís de Carreras and they represented two very different ways of thinking. Baret represented a break from the norm with in terms of the Club’s traditional powerbase given that he did not come from the textile industry. Montal, the son of a former president, represented the tradition that had administered the Club more or less without interruption for the last 40 years.  

Eleccions 1969 Propaganda Montal Postal
Agustí Montal i Costa Election poster 1969.– ES CAT-AFCB 11229 / Fons Agustí Montal.

The atmosphere was tense due to polarising nature of the campaign in which even the press took sides. All this led to a sense of great expectation amongst the Club’s members and fans despite the fact that voting was still restricted to members’ representatives. The elections took place in the Palau de les Nacions de la Fira de Mostres and 228 electors cast their votes. The count saw Agustí Montal take victory by 126 votes to 112. An era began, not without obstacles, that became key for the Club in recovering its sense of significance and its return to its civic and democratic essence.  

Linked to the Catalanist branch of FC Barcelona, Montal was opposed to the centralised nature of sporting administration as practised by the Spanish Authorities. Proof of this lay in his firm position before the Spanish Football Federation in favour of FC Barcelona’s interests in the Guruceta affair in June 1970. Furthermore, Agustí Montal’s board butted heads with the state sporting authorities after claiming discrimination against Barça’s interests after they were prevented from signing the players Heredia and Cos due to their lack of Spanish ancestry; they were not oriundos. Montal sent a group of lawyers to South America – amongst them a young Miquel Roca i Junyent – who were able to ascertain that the majority of players signed by Spanish clubs due to being classified as oriundoswere in reality lacking Spanish ancestry.  

During Montal’s mandate a wish of the former boards of directors came true: to have a multi-sport pavilion where the sports sections could work in the conditions merited at a club like Barça. On 23 October 1971 the Palau Blaugrana was opened and a week later the Ice Rink also.  

From a symbolic point of view, the original name of the entity, “Futbol Club Barcelona” was re-established in place of the Spanish version of “Club de Fútbol Barcelona” imposed on the club in 1941. Furthermore, the Catalan language was re-established in areas of such significance as official Club documents, membership cards and on the stadium’s PA system.  

The previously mentioned oriundo affair led to the possibility of signing foreign players. This easing of restrictions opened the door to the arrival of Johan Cruyff, considered the best player in the world, in the summer of 1973. With Cruyff in a blaugrana shirt, Barça claimed the league title in 1974 for the first time in 14 years.  

In the midst of the 1973/74 season elections were called. They took place on 18 December 1973 and voting, still restricted to members’ representatives, took place at the Palau Blaugrana. Montal stood for re-election and his only rival was industrialist Lluís Casacuberta. A significant difference to the elections in 1969 was the number of members’ representatives. From almost 300 in 1969 to more than 1,500 in 1973. That, many thought, might have led to a more open election but with the successful signing of Cruyff still fresh in the memory, Montal romped to victory with 902 votes to 302.  

During the second mandate of Agustí Monta i Costa the Club celebrated its 75th anniversary. The date came at a moment when the entity was beginning to assert its unique nature in front of Catalan society and it was vital to celebrate the anniversary in the relevant manner.  

A commemorative poster was commissioned from the artist Joan Miró, friendlies were played against Manchester City and the East German national team as well the celebration of various eventis of a social and cultural nature. Highlights included a festival of Catalan music at the Palau Blaugrana and most importantly, the gathering of members at Montserrat. However, if one element has embedded itself into the Club’s very fabric, it is the ‘Cant del Barça’ the organisation’s current anthem, which was selected as part of the 75th anniversary celebrations.  

The death of Francisco Franco on 20 November 1975 marked the beginning of the era of transition to democracy, although it was far from immediate. FC Barcelona was not immune to this process and it became a vital player in the path to democracy. Barça joining the Congress of Catalan Culture, the campaign ‘We want a Statute’ or the state of sporting broadcasts in Catalan, with the help of Barça, were all a demonstration of this. Perhaps the most moving of all these examples was the visit to Camp Nou of the president of the re-established GeneralitatJosep Tarradellas, back from exile, on 30 October 1977. The visit was commemorated in an official poster designed by the artist Avel·lí Artís-Gener, 'Tísner', of which 3,000 copies were made. The poster welcomed Tarradellas with the phrase “Welcome home, President” and also contained verses from poet Salvador Espriu“We remain faithful forever more to the service of the people.”  

On 18 December 1977 Agustí Montal ended his second mandate and left the presidency. Raimon Carrasco, vice president, assumed the role temporarily until new elections on 6 May 1978.  


  • May 2007 the former president Agustí Montal i Costa made a donation form his archive to the FC Barcelona Documentation Centre of texts, press documents and 16 albums of around 600 photographs.  
  • In September 2007 Antoni Miró Sans Balcells made a donation to the FC Barcelona Documentation Centre from the archive of his uncle, Francesc Miró-Sans. The material contains 10 texts, 28 photographs and 2 press dossiers.  
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