Barcelona President Josep Bartomeu

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu is set to face a vote of no-confidence after a campaign seeking his removal gained the necessary backing.

Bartomeu, who became president in 2014, has come under increasing pressure, notably when star striker Lionel Messi handed in a transfer request in August.

A motion to remove Bartomeu was filed the day after Messi’s transfer request.

A total of 20,731 signatures have now backed the motion, meaning Bartomeu should face a vote over his position.

Some 16,500 signatures were needed and as long as that number is cleared when the signed documents are verified, 57-year-old Bartomeu will be the subject of a referendum within three months.

The potential referendum will be undertaken by the club’s 150,000 members and if 66.5% of them vote against him his time at the club will come to a premature end.

Bartomeu is due to step down in March, having served the maximum two terms as club president.

But he looks set to become only the third president to face a vote of no-confidence after Josep Lluis Nunez in 1998 and Joan Laporta in 2008, though both survived the subsequent referendums.

Messi has agreed to stay at the club but resentment against Bartomeu has been growing in the past year due to worsening finances and the team’s decline on the pitch, which saw them lift no major silverware last season.

Meanwhile, former manager Quique Setien and three of his assistants also announced on Thursday that they are suing the club for failing to fulfil the terms of their contracts after being sacked last month.

They claim they only received written notice of their contracts being terminated on 16 September, despite his sacking taking place on 17 August.

Setien said he had not received any compensation and that a letter sent to him by the club on Wednesday “revealed the clear intention from the club to not comply with contracts we signed on 14 January 2020.”