Tensions are rising in northeast Spain as Catalonia fights to
hold an independence vote. Now comes word from the region’s
sports minister that independence could have a huge impact on one
of the world’s most valuable sports clubs — Barcelona FC.
According to Gerard Figueras, Catalonia’s sports minister,
Barça would be free join another country’s football league,
including England’s Premier League, if Catalonia gains its
independence from Spain. This would also be true for the other
two football clubs in the northeast Spanish region who currently
play in Spain’s La Liga, Espanyol and Girona.
“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
like Italy, France or the Premier League,”Figueras said, via the UK
In other words, the three clubs would effectively become free
Barcelona would also have to want to leave La Liga and join the
English sides. However, the Premier League’s $4.6 billion in
annual broadcast rights is considerably larger than any
other league. The German Bundesliga is a distant second at $1.6
billion and La Liga is fourth, taking in $1.3 billion
That increase in revenue would have to at least be tempting for
Barcelona and their status as the one of the most valuable sports
franchises in the world would have to be tempting for the Premier
As noted by Figueras, there is precedent for clubs playing in
leagues based in other countries, including AS Monaco, who plays
in France’s Ligue 1 and Welsh side Swansea City, who plays in the
English Premier League.
Obviously a lot must happen before the Premier League adds a club
from outside the United Kingdom, including first and foremost,
Catalonia must gain their independence. At this point, it is not even clear if
there will be a vote. In addition, adding one or more
top-tier teams to the Premier League might only make sense for
the league if they are willing to expand to 22 or 24 teams.