CLOSE-UP: NEWSMAKER - LLUIS BASSAT. Bassat has lost out for the second time in the Barca vote, Rachel Gardner says

The race for the Barcelona FC presidency was decided on Sunday when the lawyer Joan Laporta swept to power with a landslide win over Lluis Bassat, the favourite and Laporta's closest rival.

It is the second time the president of the advertising group Bassat Ogilvy & Mather has been beaten in the battle to seize control of one of Spain's mightiest institutions. Back in 2000, Joan Gaspart was awarded the post ahead of Bassat with a majority of 54 per cent.

Success this time round would have arguably been the final piece of the jigsaw in the career of the man described as the godfather of Catalonian advertising and one of the greatest Spanish businessmen, in his field, this century.

Bassat, a communications guru who is also a household name, is a quieter, more conservative answer to the UK's Max Clifford. He began life as a home-delivery television salesman.

Now the 61-year-old's many high-profile roles include the vice-chairman and creative director of Ogilvy Europe, the Middle East and Africa, president of the Worldwide Creative Council and member of the Ogilvy Executive Committee.

Between 1987 and 1995 he was the advertising, communication and image adviser to the Presidency of the Generaliat of Catalunya.

So why should Bassat be so eager to be elected by the fans as Barcelona's club president? The club is quite undisputedly in crisis. The team has failed to qualify for next season's Champions League and has won nothing now for four seasons.

But the national standing of Barcelona FC should not be underestimated.

It is widely regarded as a pillar of the Catalan identity and the flagship for the state. And with football's recent emergence as one of the most powerful platforms for advertising, it would seem to make perfect sense that the country's club should be headed by the magnate at one of the nation's leading ad agencies.

Bassat nurtured connections with sport from an early stage in his career and, in 1992, through the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Barcelona, sold an image of Spain to a multinational audience and, more recently, he was responsible for the ceremonies commemorating Barcelona FC's centenary year.

Had he won the presidency he would more than likely have guided the club towards a more stable financial condition. He pledged to cut players' salaries while stabilising the club through good housekeeping and his simplistic attitude: "Do the best work, then you will get the best people who will bring in the best clients. I see my role as the leader of the factory, making sure everything that leaves it is up to scratch."

Nevertheless, the desire for new blood, a younger attitude and, of course, Manchester United's David Beckham, eventually led to Laporta's triumph.

Despite strong support for Bassat from the Catalan banks and politicians, after a closely fought campaign, Laporta was elected president by a margin of almost two to one.

Of Barcelona's 94,334 voting members, 27,138 voted for Laporta, Bassat collected 16,412 votes, 8,000 votes were split between the four other candidates, with the rest not voting.

Unlike Laporta, a smooth-talking lawyer and former Nike executive, Bassat did not make promises about potential signings. Laporta must now fulfil his pledge to bring Beckham to Barcelona or risk starting his term in office in truly embarrassing fashion.