Why Barcelona's mooted La Liga Breakaway makes no sense
?It seems that in this day and age of social media and instant access to information on anything that is happening anywhere on the planet, it is impossible to keep the worlds of sport and politics apart.
Last weekend, that crossover reared it's often ugly head once again as the impact of Catalonia's controversial referendum on declaring independence from the rest of Spain had instant and significant effects on the region's football teams.
As the referendum took place on Sunday amidst a backdrop violence between Catalans attempting to cast their ballot and the Spanish police present to monitor the vote (which the Spanish Government claims to be illegal), officials at Barcelona were facing their own fight to get the side's match against Las Palmas at the Camp Nou on.
In the end they did, and Barcelona ran out 3-0 winners thanks in no small part to another double from Lionel Messi. There was however, no one in the stadium to see it.
Played behind closed doors, in protest at the handling of the referendum by the Spanish authorities, the match will not be the only aspect of Catalan football to feel the impact of the referendum.
On Tuesday, Barca defender Gerard Pique was booed during Spain training by national team supporters after saying he would leave the national team if his support for the referendum became an issue within the Spanish FA - though he has since said he will not be forced out of the side over the issue.
As tension grows between the Spanish and Catalan governments grows to an unprecedented level, it would appear that that the upcoming split may be more than just political, with the suggestion from Barcelona being that the club may follow the lead of its' home region and move away from La Liga.
?In the aftermath of the Las Palmas match, ?Sky Sports reported that Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu told journalists: -In the case of independence, the club and the members would have to decide in which league we would play.
One league that those within Barcelona circles have suggested as a potential alternative to La Liga is the Premier League, and while its' lucrative TV deals and high quality opposition make it clear to see why England's top flight is an attractive proposition for Barcelona, the idea from a Premier League perspective is in fact littered with issues.
?The first, obvious, issue is that of geography. It is hard to see any club seeing the appeal of a trip to Barcelona during a busy part of the football calendar - be that due to European or domestic cup action midweek, or simply due to the Premier League's hectic winter schedule. You fancy Premier League supporters would fancy these trips even less, not to mention Barcelona fans who would find themselves facing a flight across to England (or Swansea) every other week.
?The next question surrounds just how welcome Barcelona would be among the Premier League's current set of clubs. The 'Big Six' of Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and the two Manchester clubs are currently embroiled in a battle to secure a new deal that would see them entitled to higher percentage of the broadcast revenue paid to the league than the other fourteen clubs.
Given the size of Barcelona, you get the feeling they would commend part of that larger percentage should that deal happen, and it's hard to see the twenty Premier League clubs being too willing to hand over a decent chunk of their revenue to a club that, on paper at least, could walk into the league and instantly challenge for the title.
?Then of course comes the issue of what happens to Catalonia's other club's once the dust has settled in the region. Like Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona - La Liga's two other Catalonia based clubs - showed their support for the region's bid for independence by closing their stadium, training ground and club shops on Tuesday in support of the general strike held by workers in Catalonia.
That show of solidarity suggests these sides could well follow Barcelona's suit in leaving La Liga, and the Premier League allowing Barcelona to join their ranks may well set an unavoidable precedent for finding a home for Espanyol and Girona, thus increasing the issues faced in incorporating Barcelona into the league threefold.
With the dispute over Catalan independence looking set to run for some time yet, it may be a few years until we find out what action Barcelona and their fellow Catalans will take, it seems to be that a move to the Premier League would be far from the simplest solution.