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Season 2018/2019

Should Liga MX follow Spanish La Liga and implement triple promotion/relegation?

Maradona has brought back to life Ascenso MX and the time has arrived to get serious about Liga MX's second tier.
5 Dic 2018 – 12:37 PM EST

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For a month or so I have been following Oswaldo Alanís's Real Oviedo in La Liga 123, the second tier of the Spanish football league. Without any doubts, the best matches in terms of quality have been those against the sides which were relegated from La Liga in the last season: the 4-0 defeat to Deportivo La Coruña and the goalless draw against UD Las Palmas.

In both games, the adventurous but risky tactics ordered by the Oviedo manager, Juan Antonio Anquela, were exposed by clever players with some experience in the Spanish top tier, like former Valencia winger Fede Cartabia and former Betis forward Rubén Castro.

My conclusion is that a league system in which three sides get promoted and three sides get relegated each season closes the gap between first division and second division, fostering the competence in a healthy way.

Of course this kind of system is not exclusive of Spain.

In the Premier League, the relegation of Stoke City did not imply the massive sale of the Potters' best players in order to cash in and save expenses. Quite the contrary: the likes of former Barcelona players Bojan Krkic and Ibrahim Affellay have been retained. And, although Stoke now sits 12th on the table, the perspective of a reasonable chance of getting back to the Premiership meant that the squad was not disbanded.

Likewise, triple promotion ensures that supporters of second-tier football clubs remain faithful: that is to say buying tickets, following news on social media and watching regular season games on tv. In Germany, relegation into the 2. Bundesliga does not mean empty stadiums. It is always amazing to see how FC Köln play their home matches in front of noisy crowds either in the top flight or in the second division.

But Liga MX and Ascenso MX sometimes appear entirely different worlds.

Compared to Liga MX, the quality of play in Ascenso MX is not great, to say the least. In spite of the fact that many may have caught an image of drama and emotion after watching San Luis 4-2 Dorados, most second division games in Mexico are dull and uneventful as result of a system in which only one side gets promoted each year.

As the iconic figure of Diego Maradona arrived to revive Ascenso MX, the time has also arrived to discuss relegation and promotion seriously. Learning from best practices in Spain, England and Germany means that a football league should be seen as a pyramid, where the top tier is the tip and the second tier is the basis. In other words, a solid Ascenso MX is fundamental for a gleaming Liga MX.

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