Barcagate: Police 'find evidence' of journalist payments from Josep Maria Bartomeu
By Tom Gott
Catalan police are understood to have found evidence of payments from former Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu to two journalists as part of their investigation into the Barçagate scandal.
Bartomeu is accused of leading a campaign in which Barcelona would pay journalists and other social media companies to defend the club's boardroom staff and even criticise players and supporters, in an attempt to strengthen their image in the community.
The Mossos d'Esquadra, the local police force, have been investigating Bartomeu's conduct and are believed to have found enough evidence to extend their process until this summer.
According to Cadena SER, the Mossos have found evidence of payments from Bartomeu to two journalists, Marçal Lorente and Albert Lesán, who were both strong defenders of the former president during his time at Camp Nou.
The allegations state that Bartomeu sent money to these two journalists through third-party companies with false descriptions to ensure the payments were not flagged on any systems.
Included in the alleged payment descriptions were 'a training course in business communication' and 'preparation of journalistic content for clients'.
Watch 90min's Gas Tank as Harry Symeou, Scott Saunders, Grizz Khan & Hunter Godson digest Manchester City closing the gap on Arsenal & a weekend of shocking decisions from VAR. If you can't see this embed, click here to watch the video!
Bartomeu and a number of former Barcelona officials face further questioning over this and a number of other issues, with a local judge acknowledging that there are still more documents to be analysed and statements from the accused which need to be heard.
This latest development comes a month after the Mossos found evidence which tied Bartomeu to the leaking of Lionel Messi's contract with the club - something the former president has vehemently denied.