For several years, Catalonia has been trying to gain its independence from Spain. FC Barcelona’s defender, Gerard Pique has been seen in some of the pro-catalan protests. While the government in Madrid is not letting this happen easily, Spanish sports minister has said that, FC Barcelona would be out of the Spanish Football Federation if Catalonia were to gain independence.
If this move were to happen, there could be massive impacts across Spanish and Catalan football and not to mention European football.
Firstly let’s look at what would happen to FC Barcelona
There are sufficient number of teams in the region of Catalonia to form a new league, however, there will be little or no competition for FC Barcelona, with Espanyol capable of getting the odd upset. The league would be so one-sided that the club will fail to attract the top quality of talent that is on display with the Catalan Giants. The biggest setback would be the loss of revenues as they won’t be competing in high profile domestic Spanish matches and they may or may not be competing in Europe (that’s assuming Catalonia gets recognized by the UEFA and then have to work their coefficient up). Without the massive revenues that Barcelona get, they would not be capable of paying well and the quality would slowly start to leave their ranks.
The pros and cons exist in Spanish Football. Barcelona take a large chunk of the television revenues. Most of this could be lost as the broadcast deals for Spanish matches would fall, or they can be absorbed to some extent by the other clubs, improving their financial health. Teams like Athletico Madrid, Valencia and Sevilla have caused regular upsets with their limited financial means, should it improve (even if we assume Real Madrid take a lion’s share of the revenues that are available) these clubs could make a serious challenge for trophies. This could allow Spanish teams to dominate more often in the European leagues as we have seen in the 21st century.
However the downside for Spanish football is the revenues are more likely to be lost without one of the biggest clubs on earth playing for them. Besides, for the national team, a few Spanish internationals also play for Catalonia during their few unofficial matches. This could unbalance the national team for a while as a few national team regulars are pro-Catalan. This has also not gone down well with the rest of Spain, as Spanish fans have been booing Gerard Pique during the Spanish Euro 2016 Qualification campaign.
Barcelona fans have said, like Welsh teams playing in England they should be allowed in Spanish Football and it would be in their best interest from financial views, to allow the Catalan giants, even if the independence movement goes ahead.
Barcelona not playing in Europe might cause some ripple effects in Europe. If Catalonia were to gain independence, it would need to get recognition form UEFA before entering the European competitions (must be hard not to have a 5x Champions League winner not playing). When accepted, their co-efficient would be low meaning there would be a lot of qualification rounds to go through. Barcelona would have to give its players a much shorter summer break or rely on its youth academy for these initial rounds. It would be years before that rank starts to rise to automatic places in the Europa League. To some other clubs it would be great news in a way, as they have one less giant to compete against.
A minor downside could be a possible fall in the revenues with FC Barcelona not playing in the Champions League, although this may or may not happen, most probably the latter.
From this, Spanish Football and FC Barcelona could be adversely affected if they remove FC Barcelona from the federation. However, there have been talks of FC Barcelona joining the French Ligue 1, even though it will be competing from a separate nation (not surprising given as Monaco competes from Monaco, technically an independent nation).
However this all depends if the Catalan independence can go ahead, even with wide spread support among the locals, it falls onto the responsibility of the Spanish Government to handle this. Football just could change a lot with a single move.