With a massive 45,888 votes in favour, Joan Gaspart i Solves became FC Barcelona president on July 23rd 2000 after having served as vice president of the club under Josep Lluís Nuñez since 1978.
Born in Barcelona in 1944, his paternal grandfather was founder of HUSA Hotels (Hoteles Unidos Sociedad Anónima) in 1930 and the young Joan began to work as a bellboy in the family business aged 14.
In 1969 aged 25, he became manager of Hotel Oriente, one of the company's flagship hotels, located on La Rambla in the centre of Barcelona.
In 1981, he was named president of the Consejo de Empresarios de Turismo and secretary of the Asociación de Cadenas Hoteleras de España and a year later he became director general of HUSA.
The Gaspart presidency was not a successful period for FC Barcelona as the football team won no trophies during his two and a half year term of office.
However, the other sections won many titles and he introduced some important reforms to the club.
Gaspart remains a prominent member of the Barcelona business community and is still actively involved in football as vice president of the RFEF.
Prior to this he had become vice president of FC Barcelona under Josep Lluís Nuñez, when he acceded to the presidency of the club in 1978.
Gaspart was a very popular figure amongst the fans and was well-known for his sincere commitment club and his effusive celebrations of FC Barcelona triumphs, not only in football but in basketball and handball as well.
He also played a role in negotiating the signing of some of the big stars, such as Maradona, Ronaldo, Romário or Rivaldo, who joined the club during the Nuñez period.
It wasn't at all surprising then that he was elected president with a convincing 45,888 votes, 54,87% of the electorate, compared with rival Lluís Bassat's 19.791 votes.
However, Joan Gaspart's presidency was far from successful and both the fans and the press consider him one of the worst FC Barcelona presidents in recent years.
Despite spending 33,144 million pesetas (199.2 million euros) on new players, the football team won no trophies throughout the three years of the Gaspart presidency.
Immediately after Luis Figo signed for eternal rival Real Madrid, Gaspart bought Marc Overmars from Arsenal for 6000 millíon pesetas (36 million euros), which him the most expensive signing in the history of the club at the time.
Other star signings were Javier Saviola, to counteract the signing of Zinedine Zidane by Real Madrid, in 2001 and Juan Román Riquelme in 2002, as a substitute for Brazilian Rivaldo.
Unfortunately, the majority of the new signings were a disappointment and failed to live up to their expectations.
This was particularly true of Overmars and Riquelme but also the mediocrity of players such as Petit or Alfonso and the poor level of Mendieta compared with his Valencia period is still present in the mind of many culers.
Gaspart made a series mistakes with respect to his choice of coaches, taking on first Llorenç Serra Ferrer then Carles Rexach and finally, bringing back Louis Van Gaal, who had left the club in 2000.
The Dutchman was replaced by Radomir Antic halfway through the season, who only managed to classify the side for the UEFA Cup.
Unfortunately, the Gaspart presidency coincided with a particularly successful Real Madrid, whose Galácticos under Florentino Pérez won a Champions League and two Ligas.
On a financial level, the heavy investment in new players combined with
an increase in players' salaries and a fall in income due to lack of
sporting success caused economic problems for the club.
Furthermore, Gaspart never overcame the divisions that had brought about Nuñez' resignation and the period is remembered as one of disagreement and tension, which was only exacerbated by lack of success on the field.
On a positive note, the other sports sections fared reasonably well under Gaspart with the basketball and handball teams both winning five titles each and the roller hockey side winning an impressive thirteen trophies.
Gaspart also reformed the club Statutes, updated the census of members, profesionalised the management structure by creating the role of general director and also brought an ethical code for employees and players.
He lay the first stone of the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper in Sant Joan Despí on December 11th 2000 and also introduced the Seient Lliure system of members being able to sell their seats if they were planning on not going to a game as well as the Gent del Barça campaign to increase support.
However, the lack of footballing success weighed too heavily and Joan Gaspart resigned on February 13th 2003 with Enric Reyna taking over as interim president for the rest of the 2002-03 season.
Since leaving the presidency of FC Barcelona, Joan Gaspart has remained a prominent member of Barcelona society.
He is president of HUSA as well as of the Turisme de Barcelona consortium and is also honorary Consul General of the Seychelles Islands in Spain.
On a footballl level, he is vice president of the Real Federación Española de Fútbol and has been vice president of the Feceració Catalana de Futbol.
Until recently, he was was president of UE Sant Andreu, who currently play in Segona B, the equivalent of a regional third division, and during his time at the club brought them very close to promotion on various occasions.
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