KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTING —- Barcelona, diplomatically, have indicated they want it both ways as tension builds in the Catalan  capital over the Spanish government’s stated intention of ‘taking over’ the running of the region.

FC Barcelona have always been considered the most high-profile social flagbearer for Catalan rights but club president Josep Maria Bartomeu has indicated a pragmatic approach to whatever the future may hold.

Bartomeu . . . treading a delicate tightrope

Bartomeu had said last week that club members would be able to help decide Barcelona’s future but speaking at the weekend’s annual meeting, he made no secret of the welbeing of the club being his priority – which meant staying in the Spanish league whatever might occur.

He said: “You can be sure that this board will always act in the club’s defence. We will never put the club nor its presence in any competition at risk. That’s why, to all the socios I say that we want to continue playing in LaLiga and, as of today, our participation in La Liga is guaranteed.

Healthy rivalry

“It’s mutually beneficial for LaLiga and Barcelona for that link to continue.”

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has said he cannot imagine the Spanish league without Barcelona and that the clubs’ dual presence and rivalry was in their mutual interests.

Bartomeu reiterated the club’s call for “dialogue, respect and sport”, a phrase which they displayed on a giant banner before their Champions League victory over Olympiakos on Wednesday.

The president expressed his disapproval at the arrest of two leaders of the Catalan independence movement, Catalan National Assembly (ANC) head Jordi Sanchez and independence group Omnium’s leader Jordi Cuixart.

He added: ”There must be respect for everyone, minorities and majorities, to think what they things, all institutions and people.

“For that reasons, it’s unacceptable that in this century there are people in prison for their political ideas.”

Barcelona confirmed record revenue for the year of €897m for the 2017-18 season and confirmed progress in pursuit of a naming rights sponsor to help finance the redevelopment of Camp Nou.#