Real Madrid and Barcelona will not meet on 26 October after the first clásico of the Spanish league season was postponed, just eight days before it was due to take place. The two clubs have been given until Monday at 10am to agree a new date or the competition committee will rule on when the match should be played, with Wednesday 18 December the most likely option. In initial discussions, Madrid and Barcelona were receptive to that solution, although the president of the league, Javier Tebas, has proposed that the game be played on 7 December.
La Liga wrote to the Spanish Football Federation to request that the order of the clásico be switched around as a response to unrest in Barcelona following the jailing on Monday of nine Catalan political leaders for their role in an illegal referendum and the failed bid for independence. The federation placed the matter in the hands of a three-man competition committee.
The league’s proposal was that October’s clásico be moved from the Camp Nou to the Santiago Bernabéu and the return game, scheduled for 1 March, be moved from the Bernabéu to the Camp Nou. But both clubs opposed that, as did the federation, which said that to do so would be contrary to competition rules. That option was swiftly ruled out, but conversations continued involving football and political authorities.
Barcelona did not want to move the game at all, and the city mayor has said that there is no reason to do so. Other sporting events are going ahead this weekend and police sources have said there are no major security issues. There are, though, demonstrations planned for 26 October and the league’s president was also concerned about the game becoming a platform for further protests and expressions of Catalan independence on an international stage.
The Spanish government shared that position and everyone is mindful there is a general election scheduled for 10 November. The competition committee described the reason for the change as “exceptional circumstances beyond our control and demonstrated beyond doubt.”
In the meantime, confrontations continued in the Catalan capital and on Friday the committee formally ruled out any chance of the game going ahead next weekend, announcing that the clubs have until Monday to agree an alternative date.
There are Copa del Rey matches on 18 December, but without the involvement of any of the Champions League clubs and that option is understood to be the most likely. Playing on 7 December, the league’s preference, would allow their showcase match to be held on a Saturday but would oblige them to reschedule the Barcelona-Mallorca and Madrid-Espanyol fixtures originally set for that weekend. It would also mean playing the clásico in the same week as Barcelona travel to Inter Milan and Madrid go to Club Brugge. The game must be played before the start of the second half of the season, which begins on 17 January.
A final resolution is expected following the deadline on Monday, but will not be much comfort to supporters who had already bought tickets, and arranged travel and hotels for the original 26 October date.