Josep Maria Bartomeu hugs Rosell after the press conference announcing his resignation as Barca president (Getty)

(WFI) Barcelona president Sandro Rosell has resigned amid allegations that he misappropriated funds from the signing of striker Neymar from Santos.

The announcement Thursday night came after an extraordinary board meeting. The club’s vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu was unveiled as his successor until 2016.

Barcelona club member Jordi Cases has alleged that the fee paid for Neymar, bought last summer, was more than the €57m reported at the time, according to a Press Association report.

In standing down from the presidency after three-and-a-half years in the job, the 49-year-old maintained he had done nothing wrong.

“For some time my family and myself have suffered threats and attacks in silence. These threats and attacks have made me wonder if being president means having to jeopardise my family,” he said in a statement published on Barcelona’s website.

“In recent days an unfair and reckless accusation of misappropriation has resulted in a lawsuit against me in the Audiencia Nacional.

“From the beginning I have said that the signing of Neymar Junior has been correct and his signing has caused despair and envy in some of our adversaries.

“The right of the club members to be informed needs to be compatible with the defence of the club and confidentiality of certain matters and facts. This confidentiality is essential in the world of football because otherwise the club could be damaged.”

Rosell added: “The board of directors is a team. And this team leads a project that has brought the club great success. I don’t want unfair attacks to negatively affect their management or the image of the Club. This is why I think my time here has come to an end.

“Now, in accordance with the club’s statutes, I have presented my irrevocable resignation of the presidency of FC Barcelona to the board of directors.”

During Rosell’s reign, Barcelona’s trophy haul includes two Primera División titles, the Champions League, the Copa del Rey and the FIFA Club World Cup.

“In all of these years we have seen that our successes are the result of our victories on the pitch and overcoming innumerable obstacles off the pitch: political, external and, what’s worse, at times the pressure has come from our own environment,” Rosell said.

“It has been an honour to serve the Barcelonistas. It has been a privilege to be the president of FC Barcelona. I wish nothing but the best to the new president and I ask the club members for their support.”

For his part, Bartomeu, who sat alongside Rosell at last night’s hastily-convened press conference, praised his predecessor for his work since summer 2010. He said: “My first action as president of FC Barcelona is to announce the continuity of the board’s project until 2016.

“We feel very strong. We were the most voted candidacy in the 2010 elections.

“We will continue to work toward, and employ, the values that have guided us throughout these years and we will do so with enthusiasm and with the utmost commitment to maintain the excellence in the athletic, economic and social areas.

Remarking that the future of the Camp Nou would continue to be a priority, he added: “We have achieved a lot of goals in the past three years, but we still have a lot to accomplish.

“A lot is at stake with this [Camp Nou] project – our future for the upcoming decades – and members have the final word when the referendum comes up in April.”

By INSIDER editor Mark Bisson

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