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With promotion off the table, Mexican second division sides left feeling ‘sad’ ahead of meaningless playoff final

The upcoming two-legged final in the Mexican second division was supposed to be a celebration but, due to circumstances that prevent promotion, those involved are finding little reason for excitement.

Cafetaleros de Tapachula, champions of Ascenso Clausura, are set to collide with Apertura champions Alebrijes de Oaxaca on Sunday for the first leg of a two-legged final to determine the winner of the second division. However, Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla recently announced that neither team fits the top division’s requirements, meaning the two aren’t eligible to be promoted.

Instead, Lobos BUAP can pay a fee to remain in the first division after sealing relegation. If they do not, the league will play on with fewer teams. Regardless, the upcoming finale has had all of the drama sucked out of it, and both teams have been left frustrated by what is now a clash for little more than prize money.

“Yes, it makes me sad in a certain way and I keep thinking and hoping that this situation might change,” said Cafetaleros manager Gabriel Caballero, who manged Dorados last season in a campaign that saw the club fall short to Lobos. “Honestly, I don’t know what could happen, but it makes me sad having a chance, knowing how tough it is to get to a final and be able to compete for the chance to get into the first division. I don’t know when this could happen again.

“Last year was the last one where promotion was played for and Lobos won. We lost and immediately I have another chance to achieve promotion and this situation comes up.”

Both teams involved in the finale reportedly considered boycotting the match. However, a rule is in place that states any team not participating in their playoff matches would be sent straight down to the third division.

Additionally, Liga MX is set to put in place a multiyear moratorium on promotion and relegation. The league hopes to reach 20 teams before the freeze in 2020.


  1. just promote with NO requirements to increase stadium size or anything. if the club survives relegation that season, they will make more money that year that they can then reinvest in their facilities. let it happen naturally.

  2. just promote, but with the requirement that a plan for expanded or new stadium begin by the end of the clausura. If no groundbreaking or contracts haven’t been signed, then that team would be relegated.

  3. MLS apologists love to jump on the argument that pro/rel is fading away but it is merely an attempt to ensure that the teams being promoted meet DI standards. hopefully this freeze period allows the League to invest in the second division.

    biggest news that no US sites are covering is the end of the Pacto de Caballeros. Which will essentially bring Bosman rule style free agency/transfers to Mexico. No more will clubs be able to retain an out of contract player or block them from negotiating with other teams when they are out of contract.. in Mexico they call it corruption or collusion between owners in MLS they call it single entity.

  4. Either system is all about the money, but the competitiveness and the money of the US is going to make it hard to keep pace for Mexico’s leagues, that is showing already.

    They know it. When the US starts getting even more fans, and they will, it is game over.
    MLS teams will lose to Real Madrid like everyone does, but be the best league in the world while doing so. It is closer than anyone would have thought 5 years ago.

  5. Don’t forget how the biggest clubs and leagues are forcing more guaranteed CL spots and reducing those for smaller leagues and teams. Just another reality for the LOL “purists” out there. Take out Leicster’s once in a century accomplishment and the big leagues themsleves are more predictable and sperated than ever. Ever notice ho pro/rel fanatics are always fans of Real, the Manc teams, Bayern, Barca etc… convienent. I have lived and worked acroos Europe and there has never been more disillusion among lower level teams and their place in the soccer world. “playing for the scraps” is a term I hear a lot. Pro/rel is not exciting for them. It is a no win situation for the most part. Be happy to be fodder. What’s amusing is that more nd more teams are looking at US leagues and how they operate, and are in fact envious. From top to bottom our model is looking more realistic, while theirs is steeped in tradition and the old world. Pretty funny.

    • Even Leicester is owned by a big duty free company from Thailand.

      To me part of the fun of Champs League, either here or in Europe, is the early rounds with all the various national champions, seeing different teams not always on tv, in stadia and towns also not often on tv. To me lately they’re chopping away at that in favor of something akin to the SuperLeague FIFA would never allow as a stand alone transnational league, but will allow if it is nominally Europe’s club tournament.

      Stuff like Financial Fair Play comes from looking at leagues like MLS. In the ’00s when teams like ManU were drowning in stadium and leveraged buyout debt UEFA came calling to see how we kept our finances in check. So while the pro/rel people are pushing for an imagined Europe, in reality things are converging around (at least in theory) some sorts of checks on finances and spending.

    • Ridiculous. P/R is the lifeblood of european soccer, its history, and its future. Fans of small clubs count too !! Actually they an essential reason why so many small european and south american countries are so good at playing this game. Small clubs produce the cream that eventually rises to the top. And as far as many of these loyal fans are concerned, there is always a lot to play for, the club’s crest for example. In America everything is about money and performance so yeah, I see your train of thought. But many many people in this world appreciate the game just as much, if not more, when played in the lower divisions and as part of a federation’s pyramid.

      How about, on the subject of P/R, we all agree to disagree. You keep doing it your way, we’ll keep doing it ours. And we will see who keeps winning the world cups.

  6. This is a subtle reality in pro/rel in Europe as well. You have English teams, like Fulham back in the day, who are allowed to go up but have to groundshare with a “EPL worthy” stadium until they get big enough stands and all seats (I used to stand and watch Fulham all the time). You have Scottish and French teams not allowed up due to finances or stadium size. It’s interesting because the pro-pro/rel rhetoric is that pro/rel (and perhaps even folding/administration) rewards or punishes administrative choices including financial overstretch. That the system itself will either keep teams in check, reward the smart ones, or punish the dumb ones. And then you tell teams they need 20k seats to go up even if they succeeded at every other level with less, and are solvent. Mixed messages. Doesn’t quite reconcile with the sales pitch for pro/rel.

      • To be fair, exception rather than rule, but when you’re selling financial probity and not overbuilding, it’s kind of cross-talk to be like, well, if you want in our division you have to have 20k seats and to have begged or borrowed x amount of capital. It almost encourages the sort of foolish behavior pro/rel is said to discipline. And, yeah, there being only so many willing owners with the funds to finance and build playpens of the required size, the big clubs seem to rule the roost (even Leicester had a rich foreign owner), and the teams worried about these sorts of rules tend to be more constrained, either out of reality or good sense.

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