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Barcelona, Real Madrid want El Clasico moved to Dec. 18 amid Catalonia protests

ESPN FC's Gab Marcotti provides the latest on the Catalonia protests and how they might affect La Liga.
The ESPN FC crew are again at odds with Shaka Hislop's "random collection of teams" in his Power Rankings.

Barcelona and Real Madrid have proposed that the Clasico between the two sides scheduled for Oct. 26 be played on Dec. 18 after it was postponed due to the growing social unrest in Catalonia.

The Spanish Football Federation (RFEF)'s Competition Committee announced that next weekend's game would not go ahead as planned and urged Barca and Madrid to find a new date for the league game. They will now have to ratify the two clubs' suggestion.

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The statement released by the Spanish FA also ruled out the original proposal from La Liga to play the game at the Santiago Bernabeu because swapping the fixtures is not in their regulations.

Barca expressed their belief that the fixture could have been played in a statement released after the Competition Committee's decision. However, they put forward Dec. 18 as their preference for when the match should now be played, with Madrid later adding that was also the best date for them.

"The club's desire would have been to play the game on Oct. 26 as planned," Barcelona said. "The Club has the utmost confidence in the civic and pacific attitude of its members and fans who always express themselves in exemplary fashion at Camp Nou.

"Nevertheless, having received the decision to postpone the game due to 'exceptional circumstances,' and given that it falls on the clubs to agree a new date for the game before Monday, the club will propose Dec. 18.

"The club regrets the inconvenience that this postponement may cause to members, supporters' club members and fans. It has now begun the necessary steps to refund money for tickets already purchased."

A demonstration is scheduled for Oct. 26 in Barcelona following the imprisonment of nine separatist leaders for their roles in the failed 2017 push for independence, and the Spanish football federation, in consultation with government officials, said on Thursday it wasn't safe to play on the same day of the rally.

La Liga proposed moving the game to Saturday Dec. 7, which would mean the teams' matches already scheduled for that weekend [Real Madrid vs. Espanyol and Barcelona vs. Mallorca] would have to be moved.

La Liga president Javier Tebas is against the idea of playing it on Dec. 18 as there are Copa del Rey games on that day.

In addition, the league does not want the game to be played midweek because it could hurt television rights holders. The Oct. 26 match was scheduled for a 1 p.m. CET kickoff time, which favours the important Asia market.

Earlier this week, La Liga requested the Spanish football association switch the encounter from the Camp Nou to the Bernabeu, with the second league Clasico of the season to be played at Barcelona's ground on March 1, 2020.

The competition committee of the RFEF turned down La Liga's proposal, however, instead ruling the postponement of the encounter "for circumstances beyond its control."

Both Real Madrid and Barca were also reluctant to agree to La Liga's request of a change of venue, with the capital side having believed it would affect the nature of the game, and the Catalan club.

The anti-violence committee has declared the match "high risk," although federation officials said that is a common designation for matches of the calibre of the Clasico, which is the biggest event on the La Liga calendar.

Spain's interior minister, Fernando Grande-Marlaska, appealed Thursday for calm after reporting that 97 people have been arrested since Monday and 194 officers hurt as a result of the escalating violence on the streets of Catalonia.

Barca have postponed all institutional events scheduled for this week, a club source told ESPN FC on Thursday, while their travel plans for the clash with Eibar on Saturday have been seriously affected.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this story.

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