Barcelona to Discuss Leaving La Liga with Catalan Independence, Says President

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistOctober 3, 2017

FC Barcelona's president Josep Maria Bartomeu speaks during a press conference at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona on October 2, 2017.
Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu confirmed today two of the club's board members resigned in the wake of his decision to play a match behind closed doors after a violent crackdown by police of an independence referendum for Catalonia yesterday. / AFP PHOTO / Josep LAGO        (Photo credit should read JOSEP LAGO/AFP/Getty Images)
JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has said the club's board of directors will discuss the possibility of leaving La Liga in the event Catalonia gains independence from Spain.

MailOnline's Adam Shergold provided background on Sunday's independence referendum, which was ruled illegal by the Spanish state, and Bartomeu mentioned exiting the country's top flight is a possibility, per Goal:

Goal @goal

Could Barcelona really leave La Liga? Their president says it's possible. https://t.co/M1sjU9N7Lm

Security concerns in the Catalan capital meant Barcelona had to play out a 3-0 victory over Las Palmas behind closed doors on Sunday, the same day upon which the referendum took place.

Shergold nodded to murmurs growing over the weekend that suggested the Blaugrana could join the Premier League, and England's top flight would likely welcome a European powerhouse if they had the chance.

Rather than join an existing league, however, Spanish football writer Andy West believes Barcelona could even become part of a new division formed between the biggest clubs on the Continent:

Andy West @andywest01

One very realistic scenarion: independence becoming the catalyst for the formation of a European Super League. Barcelona leave La Liga, taking Real Madrid, Man Utd, Bayern etc with them. https://t.co/jQrQ69BQTq

However, Simon Chadwick, a sports professor at Salford University in England, said that while Barca joining the Premier League may seem a "match made in heaven" commercially and financially, it's an "extremely unlikely" move, per Jack Wilson of the Daily Express:

“An alternative proposal has been that Barca will have to continue playing in Spain’s La Liga. Short-term, this would seem to be the most logical outcome, although medium to long-term less so. 

“Yet such a debate is far too premature; FC Barcelona divorcing itself from the rest of Spanish football would surely require negotiations of Brexit-style scale before a divorce could be agreed."

Chadwick went on to add the Blaugrana would "probably lose its UEFA membership and right to play Champions League football" if Catalonia seceded from Spain, presenting a major obstacle for the club.

Tensions are currently at a high in Spain and Catalonia, and Lizzie Dearden of the Independent reported almost 900 people were injured on Sunday, largely as a result of Spanish police attempting to suppress the referendum vote.

After it was declared illegal, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy went so far as to say "there was no referendum," per Reuters.

That denial will not hide the results of the votes that were cast, however, and Matt Lee of the Associated Press reported a landslide in favour of secession:

Matt Lee @APDiploWriter

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - #Catalonia official: Preliminary results see 90 percent in favor of independence in vote opposed by #Spain.

Real Madrid would surely rule as La Liga's dominant party in the event Barca were to leave the division, with the two clubs having almost formed a duopoly over the league across the past decade or so.


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