FC Barcelona will have the option of playing in a foreign European league should Catalonia attain independence
The very thought of Barcelona playing in another European league, and more so the Premier League can send shivers down the spines of footballing fans in the United Kingdom. It is believed that the competitive nature of the league leads to the wear and tear of English clubs due to which they falter at the continental level.
In other European leagues, the competition is not at a level compared to the Premier League – giving teams a chance to rest their big names before a key Champions League clash and still pick up a win in the league. However, should Barcelona play in England, it remains to be seen how they cope up with the challenges their fellow clubs do.
While its still in his nascent stages, the issue in Spain is not something that can be taken lightly. Things have gone from bad to worse in the Spanish state of Catalonia, and have had a direct effect on its major team FC Barcelona. The Catalan Giants have been La Liga’s cash cow for the past several decades, and they could soon part ways with the league if Catalonia gains independence from Spain.
Barca’s last home game against Las Palmas was played behind closed doors, as there were heavy fan protests outside the stadium opposing the central government using its forces to prevent voters from taking part in a banned referendum to decide the outcome of Catalonia’s independence.
It is reported that a staggering 840 people were severely injured while participating in this referendum – ensuing chaos in the otherwise serene city of Catalonia. The Catalan Giants were contemplating whether or not to go ahead with the game, but the prospect of taking a six point hit convinced the club hierarchy to take centre stage and play in front of an empty stadium.
FC Barcelona, along with Espanyol and Girona, are three La Liga clubs that are based in the state of Catalonia. Should the state attain independence, the trio will be handed an option to continue playing in Spain’s top tier as they have for all these years, or join a foreign league and completely break free from the federation.
Catalan sports minister Gerard Figueras admitted that should Catalonia gain independence, the three clubs will have a choice to play in any European league of their choosing and the La Liga or the Spanish government will not be able to influence their decision. This could give rise to a dream scenario of Barcelona competing with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool on a weekly basis in the Premier League, should they opt to play in the United Kingdom.
Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has openly admitted that the team could consider leaving La Liga for good if Catalonia gains status as an independent state. While he neither confirmed nor denied this, the club are believed to be in favour of the state’s independence due to the legalities and hindrances that have come their way in the past.
In a board meeting Bartomeu told the reporters: “In the case of independence, the club and the members would have to decide in which league we would play. We are going through difficult and complicated moments and with respect to what could happen in the future we will take it on with calm and wisdom.”
Moving to the Premier League would also make financial sense for FC Barcelona as their earnings through broadcasting revenue will be nearly four times the amount as compared to La Liga. Due to the popularity of the English league, their clubs earn a combined sum of £3.5 billion per season through television rights, while sides in Spain earn only a comparatively meagre £0.9 billion.
At the end of the day, the motive of every club is to win trophies and to earn a substantial amount of money to sustain as well as accrue profits to ensure for its betterment. The TV deal alone could be a tempting prospect for the Barca board, and they could pounce on the opportunity if the condition permits.
It will be a massive coup for the FA, as a club like FC Barcelona, which has a worldwide fan following will set step in the most-watched and competitive league in the world. Broadcasting rights may meteorically skyrocket with Barcelona’s arrival, and it could indirectly benefit the other teams in the league as well.
However, on the downside, it will be a catastrophe for La Liga. Football’s mega spectacle El Clasico will no longer be a guarantee every season, and Real Madrid will only take on their rivals in a European competition. Barca’s withdrawal from the Spanish league, could see the federation suffer a major drop in revenue and popularity.
It remains to be seen what the next few months hold in store. Things are only going from bad to worse in what has become a frenetic situation in Spain, and hopefully it can be resolved in the foreseeable future.