Tito Vilanova is stepping down as coach of Barcelona to continue his treatment for cancer, club president Sandro Rosell has confirmed. Vilanova, who replaced Pep Guardiola as coach of Barca last summer,
had a tumour removed from his throat in late 2011, but suffered a relapse a year later. He underwent another operation on his parotid gland in December before beginning a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York.
Barcelona said in a statement on their website: 'Tito Vilanova will not continue on the Barca bench. 'President Sandro Rosell announced this Friday that the Catalan coach will not start the season.'
In a brief press conference that was held with members of Barcelona's first team in attendance, Rosell said: 'The news I have is something that you never want to give.
'After evaluating Tito's routine tests, the treatment to follow will be incompatible with being the first-team coach.
'I want to ask for respect for the privacy of this process.'
'It's a tough blow but Barca have suffered many blows and we've got through them,' added Rosell, who said the club expect to make an announcement on Vilanova's replacement in the coming days.
Reports in Spain had earlier suggested Joan Francesc Ferrer, known as Rubi, could take over Vilanova in a caretaker capacity.
The 43-year-old joined Barca's coaching staff last month as an assistant to Vilanova and Jordi Roura - who took charge of the first team when Vilanova was absent last season.
Rubi was head coach of Girona last term and led the club to the Segunda Division play-offs, where they lost to Almeria to miss out on a place in the top flight for the first time in their history.
The 43-year-old had penned a one-year contract with Barca with the option for a second season and took up his post earlier this week as the first team reported back for pre-season training.
However, there was no mention of Vilanova's possible successor on Friday, with Rosell saying: 'In next few days the vice-president Josep Maria Bartomeu and sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta will present the new coach, probably at the start of next week.'
Barca, meanwhile, cancelled their training session scheduled for the evening and Rosell confirmed they would not now be travelling to Poland for Saturday's pre-season friendly with Lechia Gdansk.
'We've spoken with all the players in the dressing room and we've decided not to go to Poland tomorrow,' he said.
Vilanova only took over from Pep Guardiola last summer, but missed a chunk of the season after undergoing treatment for cancer in the United States.
The 44-year-old had a tumour removed from his throat in late 2011 but suffered a relapse a year later and underwent another operation on his parotid gland on December 20 before beginning a course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy in New York.
After two months in the United States he returned to Barcelona in April, and speaking to the media for the first time since his treatment he said: 'I feel with desire and with strength I want to continue next season.'
In the final months of the season Vilanova made two more trips back to America for follow-up tests and to undergo further treatment.
The second of those trips was scheduled for this summer, but was brought forward to May after Barcelona clinched their fourth Primera Division title in five years with three games to go.