Pinto da Costa: his succession

In the opinion article by João Caiado Guerreiro in the newspaper A Bola: "Replacing Pinto da Costa one day will be challenging and, let's be honest, scary for FC Porto fans."
News 17/07/2023

Going back 50 years, we see that the three big Portuguese football clubs had remarkable presidents: at S.L. Benfica Fernando Martins and Luís Filipe Vieira, at Sporting the eternal João Rocha and José Roquete, at F.C. do Porto Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa. But if these presidents are no longer so, in the case of Lisbon clubs, Pinto da Costa still is in the undefeated city. What’s more, he was and is an extraordinary president: two Champions Cups/Leagues, two Intercontinental Cups, two UEFA/European League Cups, one European Super Cup, 21 National Championships, 12 Portuguese Cups and 20 Super Cups. That’s just in football. He is perhaps the best club president in Europe in the last 38 years.

Knowing that nothing is eternal, one day, someone will have to succeed him. One thing we know: there are plenty of candidates, with André Villas-Boas at the forefront. Another we can predict: Pinto da Costa will win the next election and remain President. But what will his succession look like?

When we talk about Futebol Clube do Porto, we are talking about two different things: the club and the Sociedade Anónima Desportiva. Let’s focus on the club: through the category A shares, it controls the S.A.D. and ultimately decides what the S.A.D. does. The club and the S.A.D. have the same President: Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa. This situation is common in football clubs.

The power, however, lies with the club. And this is “a sports club founded in the city of Porto on 28 September 1893”, according to Article 1 of its Statutes. And it is “constituted by its members, who have the sovereign power to define the course to be followed (…)” (article 4, no. 1). And “the governing bodies of the F.C.P. (official abbreviation!) are the General Assembly; its Board and its President; the Board of Directors, which is what interests us here; the Supervisory and Disciplinary Board and the Board of Governors (Art. 41).

The governing bodies have a four-year term of office, which may be renewed, as stated in Article 43(1), and which ceases on “death, incapacity (…), loss of membership (…) (Article 44(1)) or at the end of the term of office”. Typically, the loss of office of a member of the governing bodies would only give rise to his replacement. But in the case of the President, there is an exceptional regime: “If he and the majority of the elected vice-presidents cease to hold office”, the board falls.

Understandably, clubs are particularly democratic institutions where the President is the one who is elected. Everyone knows the club president, but vice presidents do not. Because there are six of them, they are the ones who elect the President in the event of a vacancy (Art. 63 para. 6: “The President (…) may be replaced only by a Vice-President who shall be elected by the Vice-Presidents (…)”. And if they do not elect a President? Well, then the mandate of all the board members ends, and there are elections (no. 8). The scenario is not theoretical: it happened in Benfica 2 years ago! And, of course, the elected Vice President has the advantage of being the incumbent over other election candidates.

Replacing Pinto da Costa one day will be challenging and scary for FC Porto fans. But without fear, for the much he has done for the club, for Porto and Portugal, today the Right to Goal is Jorge Nuno Pinto da Costa.

Article by João Caiado Guerreiro in A Bola newspaper.

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