The big question among football fans in every corner of the world right now is; What will happen to FC Barcelona if Catalonia declare independence from Spain? Lets find out the 4 different futures facing FC Barcelona team if Catalonia leaves Spain.
It was Summer of 2012. At a lively bar in Barcelona, along with dozens of other Catalans I was watching Spain-France Quarter Final clash of Euro Cup. To my dismay, as France National team fan, Spain national team proved to be too strong for French team and cruised past them towards Semi-Final stage. People at the bar were all chanting and supporting Spain National team, but when the match ended there was no street party, or any kind of celebration. That was odd, considering Catalans look for any excuse for late night celebration. The night after, I saw the TV images of jubilant Spanish crowd in Madrid and other cities having had street festivities for Spain’s crucial victory that very night. That’s when I noticed Catalans’ hidden bitterness towards their country.
Fast forward to 2017, and Spain and Catalonia region are on the verge of a bitter divorce for good. Many Catalan residents may be against annexation from Spain, and their low turn-out in the referendum and their massive street protest afterwards could prove so, but Catalan president (Carles Puigdemont) is insisting on finalizing the annexation within the next few weeks.
The big question among football fans in every corner of the world right now is; What will happen to FC Barcelona if Catalonia declare independence from Spain?
FC Barcelona is at the forefront of Catalonia’s independence movement. Many of its current and former players, managers and board members are supportive of Catalonia’s independence as a region. Most notable ones being: Pep Guardiola, Gerrard Pique, and Joan Laporta.
If independence does materialize, one of the most prestigious football club in La Liga football league in Spain, and one of the strongest brands in World football along with its five-times world player of the year Lionel Messi, could be without a league soon.
Let’s look at 4 scenarios that could play out for FC Barcelona if Catalonia gains independence from Spain:
1. FC Barcelona to remain in La Liga. This option will have consequences for the team’s Champions League qualification as a new Nation’s representative, as well as impacts on Spain National team call-up of Catalan players. Expect bitter reaction by non-Catalan Spanish football fans (Refer to Gerrard Pique being jeered at Spain’s World Cup Qualifier in recent weeks). There are examples of such scenarios in football: AS Monaco as a separate nation playing in France Ligue 1 is one example.
2. FC Barcelona getting kicked out of La Liga. La Liga President (Tebas) has already threatened to do so. But if La Liga football officials do proceed with this option, there could potentially face FIFA fine due to Government intervention; A rigid FIFA rule that no country could escape from.
This is a lose-lose situation for both La Liga and FC Barcelona. “About 70 per cent of the value of La Liga is Barca-Real Madrid. You take out one of the two, you take out El Clásico from the championship and you’re reducing a lot of La Liga’s value. “Recently said Victor Font, a potential presidential candidate at FC Barcelona.
3. To form a separate league, and try to gain entry into UEFA Champions League. One example is Gibraltar football club forming a separate league “Gibraltar Premier Division”. A fiasco which took the newly-formed league clubs over a century to prove their competitiveness and gain qualification into UEFA Europa League.
This scenario will heavily damage FC Barcelona’s competitiveness. A Catalonia league with only likes of FC Barcelona, Espanyol, Girona, Llagostera, Nastic Tarragona, Reus, Lleida and Sabadell will hurt FC Barcelona’s squad competitiveness, brand and sponsorship.
The fact is who would pay to see Barcelona play at the Camp Nou against Badalona and Lleida every other weekend instead of clashing against the likes of Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid?
4. Being adopted by another football league such as French league because of geographical location. Although technically any other football league with geographical proximity in Europe would be allowed to adopt FC Barcelona. This is in fact possible. Swansea City did so as a Welsh club to play in English Premier League.
However, this scenario would mean no more El Clásico; One of the most contested football matches throughout Europe, and one of the most lucrative matches for both clubs and Spanish league. In addition, if leaving Spanish league, FC Barcelona would be forced to heavily adapt its football style, and Spanish flare and techniques to the new football league it would join.
Clearly none of the options is beneficial, if not severely devastating for either FC Barcelona, and La Liga.
The best scenario would be if neither of these scenarios pan out. Because either of these scenarios would hurt football, and football fans at the core of it. Let’s hope before going through a bitter divorce, and football fans facing years of pain and unhappiness, politicians just talk about it and solve their differences. How about that for an option?