Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned from the club on Tuesday before a vote of no confidence that was to be held next month after about 20,000 fans signed a petition demanding he step down.
The rest of the board of directors also resigned.
"It's a thought-out, serene, informed decision," Bartomeu said in a televised speech.
There has been growing resentment against Bartomeu, 57, in the past year because of the club’s worsening finances and the team’s decline on the pitch.
It came to a head with their 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarter-finals in August.
Bartomeu has been widely criticised after forward Lionel Messi requested a transfer following the Champions League humiliation and was facing a vote of no confidence from the club's "socios".
He had tried to convince the Catalan government to scrap the censure vote because of the coronavirus pandemic but it would not budge.
In his speech, Bartomeu called the government's decision irresponsible, while thanking the club and saying he could not have resigned earlier.
"The easiest thing after the Champions was to resign, but one had to take decisions amid an unprecedented global crisis," he said.
Bartomeu said that later, after the Messi dispute, he could not let the club be run by external, temporary figures.
"Who would have ensured that Messi stayed? Who would have hired a new coach?" he asked.
Bartomeu took over at Barcelona from Sandro Rosell in 2014.