Spain has pulled off a remarkable achievement in making the UK seem politically competent and united, after violence marred a disputed referendum on Catalan independence.
More than 900 people are said to have been injured as police attempted to stop the ballot, yet the regional government claims 43 per cent of eligible voters managed to make their voices heard, with 90 per cent of votes cast in the affirmative.
Independence still seems an awful long way off, with top European statesmen such as French president Emmanuel Macron continuing to back Spain’s “constitutional unity”.
That hasn’t stopped speculation surrounding the futures of Catalan clubs Barcelona, Espanyol and Girona in Spain’s top flight.
La Liga bigwig Javier Tebas has been quoted stating the trio could not stay within the current structure should secession occur, and Catalonia sports minister Gerard Figueras stoked the fire by suggesting where they might go:
“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.”
Arsenal FC boss Arsene Wenger brought a dose of reality to proceedings when asked about the dilemma in his post-match press conference, after the Gunners saw off Brighton 2-0 at the Emirates:
“…I don’t think it will go as far as that.
It’s an interesting situation to see how it [sic] develops because it will have an impact on the sporting side, as Barcelona is a highly political club.
But we have enough clubs here, 20, if you want to go up to 24, but before we have to welcome the Scottish before we go to the Spanish.”
Bringing in either Celtic, Rangers, or both has been hovering around the agenda since the Sky era began in 1992, and doesn’t look on the cards any time soon, despite Scotland doggedly clinging onto UK membership.
A football writer’s dream
Maybe in another 25 years, with the Basque region also keen on independence and more likely to leave Spain should Catalonia go, scattering the likes of Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad in Ligue 1’s direction.