Catalan independence make Barca’s La Liga future ‘unknown’ – sports minister – ESPN FC
Barcelona’s future in the case of an independent Catalonia is the “great unknown,” according to the region’s minster of sport, who even suggested they could attempt to take up residency in the English, French or Italian top-flights.
Catalonia intends to press ahead with a referendum on an independence on Sunday, despite strong opposition from the Spanish government.
Fourteen local government officials were arrested by Spain’s Civil Guard last week and ballot papers were seized in a move which was condemned by Barca, who have gone on record stating they are in favour of the people’s right to decide.
La Liga president Javier Tebas, meanwhile, has attempted to apply pressure on Catalonia by saying the region’s top-flight football clubs — Barca, Espanyol and Girona — would not be able to continue in the Spanish league in the case of independence.
“The great unknown these days is what will happen to professional clubs, where Catalan clubs and in particular Barca will play, seeing that the whole world is obsessed by the issue,” Catalonia’s minister of sport, Gerard Figueras, told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“There’s no dichotomic answer — those people who say that the future will be black and white are wrong because a new scenario would open up and we would have to negotiate.
“In the event of independence, the Catalan clubs in La Liga would have to decide where they want to play: in the Spanish league or in a nearby country, like Italy, France or the Premier League. Once the clubs have given this thought, then negotiations with the federation who organise the chosen league would have to commence.”
Figueras says it would be reasonable for Barca, Espanyol and Girona to want to continue in La Liga as it remains in everyone’s best interests.
And despite Tebas’ comments, Barca believe there would be able to continue in the Primera Division, regardless of how the push for independence ends.
Along with Real Madrid, they are responsible for a large amount of money the league makes and cutting that source of income off may not be advisable to Tebas.
“Tebas’ opinion will not be the only one which really matters,” Figueras added. “He will have to consult with the rest of the clubs in the Liga and above all keep in mind the contractual and economic considerations, which are relevant.”
Barca continuing to play in the Spanish league would not be in breach of any rules, given there are currently Andorran clubs already represented in the Spanish football pyramid.
Meanwhile, Monaco play in the French league and there are Welsh teams competing in English football.
Samuel Marsden covers Barcelona for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @SamuelMarsden.