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The lesser-known football consequences of Catalan independence (7th October, 2017)

If Catalan independence becomes a reality, one of the more obvious consequences is that Catalonia may have to form their own league or join another league, such as the French footballing pyramid.

But that would mean chaos for two teams that very few have heard of.

On 29th August, 2012, Ildefons Lima rejected several offers from clubs in the first division of his home country, whilst accepting an offer made by a club in the fifth division of another country but based in his home country.

Yes, Lima, Andorra's captain, most-capped player, top scorer - and also a center back, rejected several offers in the Andorran first division, to accept an offer from a club in the Spanish fifth division (Primera Catalana) which is based in Andorra. The club? FC Andorra*.

The reason for doing so was simple - he was giving up higher wages but also a less competitive league. Which is why most players in the Andorra national football team are typically selected from FC Andorra - widely considered the biggest club in the country. The first football club to be founded in Andorra, it joined the categories of the Catalan Football Federation, contesting the Spanish League and Spanish Cup.

But what happens to FC Andorra if Catalonia becomes its own league? Would FC Andorra have to rejoin the Andorran national league? Would it go wherever Catalan teams go - plausible, since Catalan is the official language of Andorra?

What seems odd is that the only available option at the moment is also the most ridiculous logistically - a provision, carved out exclusively for Andorran teams (essentially for FC Andorra), which means staying part of the Spanish football pyramid**.

That is a worse situation that the case of UE Bossòst though. The Catalan club play in the French minor leagues.

Yes, you read that right. The club is admitted to the French competitions because of the geographical proximity. But more importantly, because of the ease of access, since before the opening of the Vielha tunnel, the county could be isolated by snow for up to six months. Those extreme conditions strengthened ties between the club and France, and in 1927 it was a Frenchman who founded the club.

The zinc mining community had a club founded by Manuel Huguet, a secretary at a local zinc mining company.

Location of the municipality of Bossòst with respect to the region of Valle de Arán

And despite the access to Catalonia improving, the club still is happy to play in France. Not just because of historical reasons too - it claims that it travels shorter distances within France (the Haute-Garonne district) than it would have to in the Lleida region.

This isn't even the first time that a club on the map above has played in the French leagues. AF Les played in the French football league system until the 2006-07 season, before switching to the Catalan league system.

If Catalonia does become independent, then who knows - UE Bossòst would have little issues maintaining links with the French league, and certainly would be welcome in the Catalan league too. The issue then becomes one of choice rather than circumstance.

Only time will tell, though, what will actually happen.

*Confused? Read more to get more confused. This team is called Andorra, and won no away games in the 1997-98 Segunda B in Group 3, and plays in Andorra la Vella, Andorra, which is different from the team called Andorra, which won no away games two years earlier in the same group, which plays in Andorra, Teruel, Aragon.

The first team is FC Andorra, which gained just seven points, including one win, all season, and Ildefons Lima was a part of that squad. The second team is called Andorra FC. The first never have seen the light of Segunda B ever again. The second saw it once, in 2011-12, and were actually relegated from the fourth tier of Spanish football for the first time in their history (since they were formed in 1957).

For the first time ever, both teams are in the fifth division of Spanish football.

**Things get even more confusing when you look at the state of the Andorran football league.

Andorra's teams don't have their own stadiums (except FC Encamp) - the Andorran Football Federation organizes first and second division matches in stadiums owned by the local federation. And the federation distributes the stadiums and fields for the training sessions for each team.

One of those stadiums is Centre Esportiu d'Alàs. With a 1,500 capacity, it is the largest stadium used by the Andorran leagues.

And this won't surprise you - it is located in Spain, about 15 kilometers by road from the Andorra-Spain border.  That's not nothing - another 15 kilometers down that road takes you to the capital (Andorra la Vella).


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