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It’s kick off time and the Camp Nou roars out the Barça anthem: “Tot el Camp... Es un clam”. The players come out onto the pitch, the captains shake hands, the referee puts the ball on the centre circle – the game is about to start in the Catalan capital. Now shift 1,000 kilometres north to London. In a boat moored on the banks of the river Thames Barça’s oldest penya outside Spain is meeting to watch the game with all the enthusiasm of the fans at the Camp Nou – welcome to Bar&Co, the home of the Penya Blaugrana London, known to its members as “Camp Nou on the Thames”.
With Barça due in England to face Manchester City on Tuesday, 24 February, we spoke to Eduard Manas, the President of the Penya Blaugrana London, which will be celebrating its 30th anniversary this December.
Q: Where do you meet to watch FCB matches?
Eduard Manas: Penya Blaugrana London (PBL) meets at Bar&Co, a boat moored in the river Thames, in front of Temple station. We can proudly say we are the only penya based in a boat.
Q: What are the objectives of the penya?
E.M.: We have three objectives: to promote FCB and its values in the UK, to provide an environment to watch FCB matches and to help people make friends and socialise in London
Q: How many members do you have and are most of them ex-pat Catalans or English people?
E.M.: We currently have 170 members and we are proudly the most multicultural penya with 25 nationalities. We are also very proud of the good work we have done these last few years promoting FC Barcelona in the UK. 38% of our members are Catalan, 30% English, 11% Spanish and 21% from the rest of the world.
Q: What advantages does a Barça fan have if she joins a penya?
E.M.: The main benefit is being a part of a friendly community of fans dedicated to supporting FC Barcelona in London. There is also a 10% discount on food and drinks at Bar&Co, our base, great deals on their menus, a badge, a good looking membership card, and 15% discounts for FCB tickets. We also try to promote FCB amongst our younger members. This year, all our members under 16 will receive a FCB football.
Q: Barça face English Champions Manchester City in the next round of the Champions League – will your penya be at the game?
E.M.: We will indeed be at the game with more than 30 members. Last year, we travelled with 47 members and unfolded our huge Saint George flag at the Etihad stadium. Saint George is the shared saint of both England and Barcelona, so it is an important flag for Penya Blaugrana London.
Q: Do you have a prediction for the City result?
E.M.: Our prediction is 0 - 2 in Manchester, and 3-0 at the Camp Nou. Fortunately our Barça has started to play top football again. We know that when Barça play well, no team can stop us!
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