MIAMI, Fla. (17-April 2020) —
There has been some interesting news coming out of Mexico of late. Mexico’s second division, La Liga Ascenso MX, has cancelled its 2020 Clausura season due to economic losses caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. This is set against news that the promotion and relegation between the Ascenso and Liga MX might soon be discontinued.
The Ascenso MX currently has twelve teams, but has been financially weak in recent years. The vote by club owners, via videoconference, to cancel the season adds another financial loss to the circuit. As recently as 2017, the league had a full eighteen teams. The Ascenso MX season had been suspended from March 16.
While many in the United States are hoping to see pro/rel in some form, the system used by practically the entire world has come under review in Mexico. There, a team is not automatically promoted to Liga MX. Instead, because Liga MX operates under a quasi-franchise model, a team that qualifies for promotion on sporting merit (finishing in a promotion spot in Liga Ascenso MX) must first be certified by Liga MX before being allowed to takes its place in the top flight. Mexican league structure is also unique, featuring playoffs and a relegation system that is based on a points-per-game basis over the last three years (six seasons).
Some Liga MX club owners have leaned towards making the first division a closed league of 20 teams. In turn, the second division would be converted into a developmental league, with ESPN Mexico sources indicating that it is now close to becoming a reality. Major decisions about the future of football are on hold for the time being with the leagues currently on hiatus and Liga MX President Enrique Bonilla recovering from coronavirus.
It is logical to presume that the development league would have age and foreign player limits in place in order to develop home-grown talent, although teams couldn’t win promotion.
The move to potentially end pro/rel becomes more interesting set against what has already been reported relative to the possibility that MLS and Liga MX will eventually merge after the World Cup in 2026, which will be primarily a US-hosted event but which will also have some games in Canada and Mexico. There has been talk of closer integration between MLS and Liga MX, and on the surface it seems like a longshot, but both leagues continue to see it as an opportunity to create a North American super-league.
Liga MX and MLS currently play the Campeones Cup, Leagues Cup and an All-Stars game is scheduled for July, although that may well be cancelled due to the coronavirus.
Many fans in Mexico will see the end of promotion and relegation to be a loss to Mexican football. Mexico legend Rafa Marquez said in a recent ESPN interview that ending promotion “takes out the soul” of the clubs in the second division. Despite the fans’ feelings about the potential of ending pro-rel at least temporarily, the reality is that by all accounts none of the twelve teams in the second division would meet the financial criteria necessary for promotion.
by Guillem Balagué (Author), Iolanda Rabascall (Translator) 4.3 out of 5 stars | 72 ratings
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