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Josep Lluis Nunez, president of Barcelona football club for the last 22 years, has decided to resign, the club's internet site revealed on Saturday.

Sports daily El Mundo Deportivo, with strong links with Barca, reported earlier Saturday that Nunez, whose mandate expires in 2002, made the decision on Thursday and will leave the club at the end of the season regardless of whether Barcelona win the Spanish league title.

The site "fcbarcelona.es" Spanish language section confirmed: "The official web page of Barcelona football club informs all the season-ticket holders and supporters of our club that the information published in El Mundo Deportivo is completely correct".

Nunez considers himself a victim of persecution, the paper continued.

For some weeks now, the atmosphere at the Nou Camp stadium has been tense, since a triple of Champions League, Spanish League and Cup was no longer on course.

Nunez has been criticized for the appointment of Dutch coach Louis van Gaal, whom detractors say is guilty of creating a club which is a mere annex to the Dutch national side. He has eight Dutchman on his books and Finn Jari Litmanen who used to play for Ajax.

Madrid newspapers, less in contact with the whispering in Nou Camp corridors, are nevertheless saying on Saturday that Nunez and van Gaal have agreed to a "diabolical pact."

Van Gaal has reportedly agreed to get rid of some of the Dutch players and Nunez will be selling European footballer of the year Rivaldo, with whom Van Gaal has had a rocky relationship this season.

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Barcelona's Nunez says he is likely to quit in July
By Phil Minshull

MADRID, May 14 (Reuters) - Barcelona's longstanding president Josep Lluis Nunez said on Sunday he would resign in a few weeks if the club's fans continued to vent their wrath on him.

``I'll present my resignation at an assembly (of the club) in July if things stay the same because it does not make any sense for me to stay in the directors' box of the Nou Camp,'' Nunez was quoted as saying in an interview with the Spanish daily La Vanguardia .

``At this moment I'm very sure I'm not carrying on.''

Nunez celebrates 22 years as president of the Catalan club later this month. But calls for him to go have grown much louder recently.

Bacrcelona's failure to make the Champions League final and the probability they will not retain the league title have led to calls for Nunez to quit and coach Louis van Gaal to be sacked.

More than 300 fans tried to storm the Nou Camp directors' box on Wednesday after Barcelona lost 5-3 on aggregate to Spanish rivals Valencia in the Champions League semifinal.

``I'm amazed that our own supporters came ready prepared with placards and signs against their own team to a Champions league semifinal,'' Nunez said.


``This is not the culmination of a 22-year war but I have not got the strength to carry on under these conditions,'' the 68-year-old construction magnate said.

Nunez said elections for a new president could be held in July or his vice-president Joan Gaspart could see out the remainder of his (Nunez's) term of office which ends in 2002.

The latter option is probably the one Nunez prefers as Gaspart has been Nunez's spokesman for much of the past two decades.

Van Gaal, who has come in for similar flak from disgruntled fans, said in an interview with the Catalan local TV station TV3 on Saturday that he could work under any president at the club.

Asked if he would he leave if Nunez went, van Gaal said: ``I don't know but I don't think so.

``I know what's going on but for me it's not a problem.''

However, any new president would be keen to appease the fans, who have never taken to the autocratic Dutchman, and van Gaal's departure would help his cause.

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