Barcelona risk becoming like Celtic in independent Catalonia - Cardenal

The president of the Spanish Sports Council (CSD) has warned that Barcelona would end up being similar to Celtic or Ajax if Catalonia broke from Spain and became independent.

The issue of potential independence for the region is again dominating the media agenda in Spain.

This weekend, Catalonia goes to the polls in a regional election that is being seen as a second vote on independence after an unofficial referendum last year showed 80 percent of Catalans were in favour of breaking away.

La Liga president Javier Tebas tweeted on Monday that "if Spain breaks, La Liga breaks", although Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu said the club was remaining "neutral" ahead of the poll.

Madrid newspaper Marca said on its front cover that a breakaway would lead to "a ruin -- potential total collapse of Catalan sport and football."

And Cardenal told AS that a Barca team playing in a Catalan league would not have the financial wherewithal to sign or keep star players -- meaning they would no longer be able to challenge at the top level.

"Clubs' finances are decided by their TV revenues," he said. "In an independent Catalonia of eight million people, you could be a team based around a youth system like Ajax, Celtic, Standard [Liege], etc... and at most reach the last 16 or quarter-finals of the Champions League, for example.

"That is not scaremongering. I am an Athletic [Bilbao] fan and I know we will never win La Liga, but I accept it.

"It seems a joke to me to be thinking about where the teams will play if independence happens, with all that is happening in this country. There are things more important than football."

The politician said sport "is based on geographical contexts - and if one part is not there any longer it cannot take part in the competition."

Cardenal claimed that politicians in favour of Catalan independence were using Barca for their own ends.

"I have been saying for a while that the powers in Catalonia are using sport as a tool, and I am sure they have tried to capture Barca in this sense," he added.