Barcelona could join Premier League, claims Sports Minister
What's the story?
Lionel Messi could feature for FC Barcelona in the Premier League in the near future, if Catalonia's referendum for independence goes through on Sunday. With La Liga having confirmed that they will not allow Catalonian teams to play if they gain independence, Catalonia's Minister of Sport, Gerard Figueras, said "In the case of independence, Catalan teams in La Liga – Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona – will have to decide where they want to play: in the Spanish league or a neighbouring country: Italy, France or the Premier League."
"Now in Spain there are teams from other countries who play in national leagues: clubs from Andorra in football and basketball. Monaco play in France, in England Welsh clubs. I don't think that UEFA has anything against seeing another club play in a different league from their country."
In case you didn't know...
Catalonia's press for Independence has reached fever pitch in the last few weeks, with the region's 7.5 million populations participating in a referendum to vote for their independence. Spanish PM, Mariano, however, has said that the vote 'will not happen'. Spain's national government has already deemed the vote illegal and has been cracking down on Catalan officials and seizing ballot boxes of late. Barcelona themselves have released a statement condemning the actions.
The heart of the matter
If Catalonia are to gain independence, three major La Liga clubs - FC Barcelona, RCD Espanyol and Girona will face an uncertain future, as La Liga President Javier Tebas, expressed doubts that the league may not allow them to participate. He said "In sport, it isn't a la carte and things must be clearly stated. It isn't easy to have an agreement and study Spanish legislation but if they (Catalan clubs) do get that, then they will not be able to play in Spain's La Liga, but I hope it doesn't come to that."
UEFA and FIFA might also be called in to legislate in the matter, although previous precedent exists for clubs from other nations being allowed to participate in the league of another nation - Swansea and Cardiff City from Wales participating in the English Premier League.
As for the vote of independence, Barcelona remain at the forefront, with Gerard Pique prominently displaying his support for Catalonia, as have Barcelona
While Catalonia may very well get its independence, the sheer loss of revenue from the absence of El Clasico will force La Liga into a more amenable stance. FC Barcelona's support for the Catalonian movement will go on unabated, and that may only fuel the fires of El Clasico. As for the Premier League, they would naturally welcome the thought of one of the biggest clubs in the world joining them, although given the insular notions that have been popular in England of late, this might not see the light of day.