Ricardo Barkala has been the first to jump into the electoral arena and officially announce his decision to run for the presidency of Athletic. He did it this Tuesday in a central Bilbao hotel and within the framework of a simple act lasting approximately half an hour, in which he outlined some main lines of a project that he will give more details about in his future appearances. It has only been a contact with the rojiblanca reality, which he wants to make his own through an ideology based on the determination to build a stronger club both in sports and institutional terms. He has stated that one of his challenges is to "improve and order the management in all areas" of an entity that will elect the new tenant of the main floor of Ibaigane on June 24. The current president of the Bilbao Port Authority has stated that he intends to put together a "winning" team and attract the "best Basque soccer players" with an attractive project, in addition to "retaining the talent" that is formed in Lezama.
As expected, Barkala has avoided giving clues about the people who will make up his board -at the presentation ceremony, former director Mónica Durango and the current director of Surne Bilbao Basket Carlos del Campo could be seen- and he has not delved into the subject of the trainer. Now, he has acknowledged that he has spoken with "six or seven" technicians and that one of them has been Marcelino García Toral. In fact, he has commented that they have met "twice" and that they have also exchanged impressions by phone. “They have been close conversations. He has also been comfortable. At this point, the candidate - actually it will be when he formalizes the signatures and is proclaimed as such - has downplayed the order in which he has been sounding out the possible tenants of the San Mamés bench. The one from Careñes gave a lot of importance to this protocol, but Barkala has assured that the Spaniard “is neither the first nor the last option. We have not yet decided who will be the coach." The names of Pochettino, Low and Valverde have been put on the table, but he has not picked up the glove. «We only wanted to know the situation -of a series of trainers- and their interest in Athletic». Of course, he has advanced that he will communicate his decision in June, between days 9 and 24.
In what Barkala has not wanted to get wet is in the project of the reform of the Statutes, which will be put to the vote on May 23. «We are aware of the effort and hours of work of the commission. We need to modernize the Statutes. It is a necessity. I will respect what the assembly says. When he was insisted on this matter, that he give his personal assessment of the text already drafted and presented, the candidate has once again alluded to the responsibility of the delegates. "They are very hardworking. It is not the first time that they have tried to remove it. We need a Statute adapted to reality. It also collects contributions from members, but I would like to interfere with anyone's vote. I will accept what the assembly says », he reiterated.
According to Barkala's initial exposition, the Bilbao entity enjoys an “optimal financial position” and has the “strength of philosophy. It's an advantage, not a limitation." Now, he has categorically stated that Athletic "need calm and improve management". So much so that at one point in his speech he slipped that it is time to "win something." And he added: "We don't give up anything to become a winning club again." When questioned about how he intends to achieve it, the candidate has spoken of "generation of talent, training and retention" -alluding to departures that have decapitalized the team's sporting potential-, without giving up the incorporations that improve the product of Lezama. “Athletic has to be the main destination for any Basque footballer. We have to make the feeling of belonging something important”. How? With an "attractive project" that would attract the great figures compatible with the red and white philosophy.
Barkala has not had any convenience in revealing that he is in "contact with the CVC fund", a long-term financing option (50 years) ruled out by the current board and also by Real Madrid and Barcelona. "We have to speak and be in all areas that affect Athletic". In this sense, he has specified that the conversations with CVC do not imply his adhesion, but simply obey the interest in knowing the details of the project. The candidate for the Ibaigane presidential chair has reiterated that the rojiblancos "are not a selling club" and that they must do everything possible to "retain their talent. We have to fix the finances and look at Europe », he stressed, in addition to hinting at a « new way » of negotiating with the squad. "We think it can be attractive to footballers."
At all times he has insisted on the need to build a positive debate around Athletic and has recognized the figure of Iñaki Arechabaleta, who will dispute victory at the polls. "I respect him and I respect his professional career." Barkala has stated that in the event of winning he would try to combine his work in the Port with the presidency, although, as he has advanced, if he sees that it is impossible to harmonize both functions "he would leave" his responsibilities in the Port Authority of Bilbao.