If Catalonia gets independence, what happens to FC Barcelona?

What sort of country will an independent Catalonia be? 

For a city that’s a byword for carefree fun, Barcelona had a torrid, divisive 2017

First, there was the Islamic State terrorist attack on La Rambla, the Catalan capital’s main thoroughfare, which killed 13 people on August 17.

And while it brought unity to Barcelona, it was only a matter of time before the issue that dominates the politics of Catalonia – independence from Spain – raised its head again.

On October 27, following a controversial referendum (deemed illegal by Spain), Catalonia’s parliament unilaterally declared the province an independent republican state. Spain immediately dismissed its government and assumed direct control over the area.

However, that’s not to say an independent Catalonia is impossible.

The interesting question is: what would it look like? Tax haven for the super-rich? Socialist workers’ paradise?

Nick Rider is the editor of Time Out, Barcelona. He believes that an independent Catalonia would be run along social democratic lines, using its citizens’ famed entrepreneurial spirit to fund generous social provision.

“Catalonia is too big to be Monaco, and a great deal of the appeal of independence has been in ‘civic nationalism’. This is a vague idea that a smaller, independent Catalonia would be more open, flexible and responsive to calls for social support, environmental protection, progressive social legislation and so on – more genuinely democratic – than the big bureaucratic Spanish state has been.”

A wide range of political viewpoints make up the alliance of pro-independence parties, which go from free-marketeers to extreme anarchists. Thanks to the rigidity of the Madrid government, these organisations have been able to bury their differences in pursuit of a common goal. However, with independence, those conflicting views will become more apparent and tough choices will have to be made.

One topic with huge significance is the position of FC Barcelona, Spain’s second-most successful club (after Real Madrid) and the most visible symbol of Catalan nationalism. Would departure from Spain mean exit from the Spanish football league? Nick Rider again:

“La Liga would be devastated to lose FC Barcelona and its regular clásicos with Real Madrid – other considerations aside, they’re a massive global money-spinner. Barça would inevitably be diminished in a Catalan league that would be even less competitive than Scotland’s (sorry), with only the occasional plucky challenge from Espanyol, Girona or some other team now in the Spanish second or third tier. But it’s hard to see how Barcelona could stay in the Spanish league if Catalonia were fully independent.”

Perhaps then it’ll be football, not politics, that keeps Catalonia in Spain.