The Spanish Competition Committee have decided to postpone the first ‘Clasico’ of the season between FC Barcelona and Real Madrid due to the current unrest in the region of Catalonia following the sentencing of nine separatist leaders to prison terms of between 9 and 13 years on Monday.
The decision to postpone the game scheduled for 1pm local time on October 26th was taken late on Thursday as Barcelona saw its fourth night of violent clashes in the streets and in the knowledge that October 26th is also the day for a planned protest march in Barcelona against the sentence.
The Committee rejected the request of Spanish football league (LaLiga) President Javier Tebas to switch the order of the two ‘Clasicos’ to allow for the game to be played in Madrid next weekend with the return fixture in Barcelona at the start of March.
Both clubs were against the move, alleging that it would adulterate the competition and the Committee will have to now find a new date for one of the most important matches of the season with either December 7th or December 18th likely dates.
Earlier on Thursday Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde had expressed his opposition to changing the date of the game saying, “there are nine days left until the match and there is currently too much talk.”
“If the match were tomorrow then perhaps it wouldn’t go ahead, but there are still nine days to go. There is room to maneuver,” commented Valverde, who added that the club would, nevertheless abide by “whatever is decided.”
The news will no doubt come as a blow to the thousands of foreign football fans who attend the ‘Clasico’ every year and who have already spent hundreds, if not thousands of euros on match tickets, booking flights and reserving hotels.