The Bilbao businessman wins easily over the candidacies of Arechabaleta and Barkala
Jon Uriarte (Bilbao, 43 years old) is the new president of Athletic, number 33 in the history of the centennial red and white entity. The Biscayan businessman, winner two weeks ago of the so-called battle of the signatures and therefore eventual favorite at the polls, has convinced most of the partners during the campaign with his permanent image of change and with the need to eliminate formulas of the past to place the institution at the forefront and on the highway of the future. The new tenant of Ibaigane after three and a half years of Aitor Elizegi’s mandate has easily surpassed Iñaki Arechabaleta and Ricardo Barkala in the elections held in San Mamés. It was the first time that the Cathedral hosted the elections.
Most of the members have agreed with the messages of renewal of the team headed by Uriarte, convinced that Athletic needs an electroshock that shakes the windows of the Alameda Mazarredo headquarters to open them wide to revolutionary ideas. The incoming board of directors, twelve men and six women very close to him and with high-level positions linked to the business sector and the legal field, want to modify the traditional system in economic and social decisions. For sports, however, he has opted for an experienced man of the house, Ernesto Valverde, who will begin his third stage on the bench of a team he has managed in more than three hundred games.
In the list of the already president there is not a single name linked before with the management of Athletic, a very thoughtful decision with which he sought to transmit modernity. Uriarte’s campaign has been unique, at the opposite end of what had been seen so far. There was no act of presentation in society -he disclosed his list in a statement and through social networks-, he has not participated in debates with his opponents and the great trunk on which his football project should pivot, a plenipotentiary sports director, came down in fifteen hours when it was confirmed that the chosen one, the Mexican Carlos Aviña, spread sexist, racist and homophobic messages on the Internet some time ago. He has not appointed a substitute, but this handicap has not taken its toll on him at the polls.
The businessman’s victory corroborates that the sociological spectrum of the social mass has experienced a substantial shift due to the greater weight of the new generations. The polls have reflected this slow transformation, although some signs pointing in this direction had already emerged in recent years. The first, still timid, was Elizegi’s triumph in December 2018, when he beat the one everyone considered the winner, Alberto Uribe-Echevarría. The second, very recent, was the approval by the assembly of the reform of the Statutes, a document designed to eliminate the Taifa kingdoms in the different levels of the club with the granting of greater decision-making power to the member.
crossing of accusations
The day that San Mamés premiered as the electoral headquarters ran normally, beyond the confusion due to the change of scenery when the members entered the interior of the stadium. However, tension was bubbling up in the nearby headquarters of the three candidates, engaged in a crossroads of accusations for the installation of a txosna by Barkala in the central area of the esplanade of the Cathedral, the harsh statements on the eve of Uriarte, who activated the fan in his last interview as an applicant in an attempt to discredit his opponents, and Arechabaleta’s forceful response to the brand new helmsman of the red and white ship.
The outskirts of the field were a constant transfer of partners while the three applicants in contention awaited their fate in these elections. The businessman has confirmed his favoritism and the trump card of Marcelo Bielsa, a technician with a lot of prestige, has allowed the deustoarra executive to climb to second position – he had been last in the number of endorsements. The great loser was Barkala, the first to take the step in the race towards Ibaigane. He gives the feeling that his collaborators, old acquaintances from previous management tasks in the club, are already past for upcoming electoral appointments.
Uriarte has emerged unscathed from all his setbacks during the campaign. He has not penalized him either for having shared a coach with Barkala. Previous analyzes pointed to the possibility that this coincidence would divide the vote between the two and that Arechabaleta could benefit from it with his bet on Bielsa. But if this dispersion has occurred, it has not had a decisive impact on the results.
The vote has been concentrated around the proposal of a Uriarte who asked from the beginning and repeatedly for a clean campaign and who surprised by bringing out all his artillery in the decisive hours of the campaign to attack his two rivals. His demonstrations have opened wounds that may take time to heal when the ‘legislature’ has just started.
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