Barcelona, Real Madrid eye Dec 18 date for postponed Clasico

Pro independence protesters arrive to Barcelona after walking from the towns of Vic (70km) and Berga (100km), on October 18, 2019, on the day that separatists have called a general strike and a mass rally. – Catalan separatists burned barricades and clashed with police in Barcelona yesterday in a fourth night of violence triggered by Spain’s jailing of nine of their leaders over a failed independence bid while today they have blocked traffic on two routes connecting Spain and France, on the fifth day of protests, the transport ministry said Friday. (Photo by Josep LAGO / AFP)

Barcelona and Real Madrid appear set to agree December 18 as the date for a rearranged Clasico after Spain’s biggest football match was postponed on Friday due to protests in Catalonia.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) announced that Barca and Madrid have until 10:00 am (0800 GMT) on Monday to find a new date, which will be decided by the RFEF if they cannot reach an agreement.

But according to the RFEF, Real Madrid have already approved December 18, meaning the fixture looks set to move to that date, pending official confirmation.

In a statement on Friday, Barcelona proposed the new date but also stressed their desire for the original fixture, scheduled for October 26 at Camp Nou, to go ahead.

“The club’s desire was to play the Clasico at Camp Nou on the 26th, the date and time previously agreed and the Committee was informed of this in writing,” read Friday’s statement.

“The club has the utmost confidence in the peaceful behaviour of its members and fans who always express themselves in exemplary fashion at Camp Nou.

“Nevertheless, having received the decision of the RFEF Competition Committee to postpone the game citing ‘exceptional circumstances’ and given that it falls to the clubs to agree a new date for the game before Monday, the club will propose December 18.”

Barcelona added the club “regrets the inconvenience” caused to fans and will refund those that had bought tickets for the original fixture.

Exceptional circumstances
In a press conference on Friday, Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said: “We will do as we are told. I know there is a lot of debate but that’s our position. I have my own preferences but I’m not going to tell you them.”

The Clasico was set to be Barcelona’s first home game since nine pro-independence leaders were sentenced to imprisonment on Monday for their role in the illegal referendum over Catalan independence in 2017.

The ruling has sparked violent demonstrations across the city and there were fears protestors would use the match against Madrid to stage further acts of unrest.

The football club of Barcelona, which is regarded as a symbol of Catalanism, had responded on Monday with a statement insisting “prison sentences are not the solution”.

La Liga then proposed to the RFEF that the venue of the Clasico be changed from Camp Nou to Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu but Barcelona rejected the switch.

Instead, it has been decided that a change of date is necessary due to what the RFEF described as “exceptional circumstances”.

“The RFEF agrees to dismiss the request made by La Liga in relation to reversing the order of the matches played between Barcelona and Real Madrid,” an RFEF statement read earlier on Friday.

“FC Barcelona and Real Madrid must agree on the new date of the meeting before October 21.

“In case of not reaching an agreement, the Competition Committee will be responsible for determining the date of the meeting.”

After the Catalan independence referendum in 2017, Barcelona played a league match against Las Palmas behind closed doors in protest, after their request for a postponement was rejected.

Barca play away at Eibar in La Liga on Saturday and planned to make the 589-kilometre journey by bus to avoid demonstrations at El Prat airport.

Real Madrid also play on Saturday, away at Real Mallorca.

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