Things are about to shake up in Liga MX starting next season. A reunion involving Liga MX owners on May 20 saw many decisions made and official announcements unveiled. Here’s everything you need to know about what’s changing, what it means and why it’s important.
The biggest news of the week is that Liga MX will be operating with 19 teams next season, one more than usual.
Atletico San Luis won both the Apertura and Clausura tournaments of the Ascenso MX to achieve promotion to the top flight.
The 19th team will be Veracruz, who managed to stay in the first division despite being relegated by paying the required $120 million Mexican pesos to the league. Despite rumors that the league was going to force Veracruz and Fidel Kuri, Los Tiburones’ controversial owner, out of the top flight due to countless scandals and embarrasing on-field activity. Still, fans of Veracruz have not been left without top-flight football, although questions still remain as to how the on-field product will improve with Kuri still as owner.
This extra team in the first division means the inclusion of bye weeks where one team will rest each week in the Apertura.
The 2019 Apertura tournament is set to begin on July 19 and will conclude on December 15.
Liga MX also announced that a special tournament in conjunction with Major League Soccer will be disclosed “in the coming weeks”, according to a statement. The event has been in serious talks for months now.
Similar to the now-defunct North American SuperLiga—an eight-team tournament played between Liga MX and MLS sides that ran from 2007 to 2010—this new tourney will pit clubs from both leagues against each other, although details as to dates, participating clubs, qualification or championship incentives have not yet been announced.
The second annual Campeones Cup—a match that pits Liga MX’s Campeon de Campeones against MLS’ reigning champion each year—is slated to be played August 14 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. Last year, Tigres UANL defeated Toronto FC, 3-1, at BMO Field to take home the inaugural trophy. Defending MLS champs Atlanta United will host the Liga MX representative this time around.
In other team ownership news, Orlegi Sports finalized a deal with TV Azteca for the purchase of Atlas FC. Orlegi have been the owners of Santos Laguna since 2013 and have led the institution to two Liga MX titles, a Copa MX title and a Campeon de Campeones. The corporation also owns Tampico Madero in the Ascenso MX.
English-language press release from @Orlegi_Sports to announce the takeover of @atlasfc. Even that tells you that this organization thinks a bit differently. It’ll be interesting to see where they go next. pic.twitter.com/KFarWXLspm— Tom Marshall (@mexicoworldcup) May 21, 2019
For years, many have pointed to Azteca’s lack of funds while handling two top-flight teams (the television giant also owns Monarcas Morelia) as the reason why both Morelia and Atlas have struggled for any sort of long-term success in the past decade.
Another Liga MX team involved in ownership change rumors was Lobos BUAP. Last week, Mexican newspaper El Diario de Juarez reported that FC Juarez owner Alejandra de la Vega would buy the Puebla-based team and move it to Ciudad Juarez. However, these rumors were quickly proven false by an official statement from Lobos.
“The Club Lobos BUAP front office denies any rumor related to a supposed sale or relocation of the team to Ciudad Juarez, or to any other state.”
Comunicado oficial del Club Lobos BUAP pic.twitter.com/VmON8shNVl— Lobos BUAP Oficial (@LobosBuapMX) May 20, 2019
Lobos were also rumored to be moving to the state of Guanajuato to revive former first division club Irapuato.
In player developments, new transfer and contract regulations were approved at the meeting, although the details weren’t confirmed. Speculations point to the fact that this could mean the dissolve of the much execrated Pacto de Caballeros agreement between owners and would give more freedom to players. i.e. possible free agency.
Mexico’s top cup competition, Copa MX, is also being revamped next season. The tournament will now be held once a year instead of twice a year. Similar to European cups, the initial group stage of the cup will begin in the Apertura portion of the season and the knockout rounds will begin during the Clausura. The final will be played on April 14-15, 2020.
27 clubs, 15 from the first division and 12 from the second, will participate in the new year-long format. It it not yet known how this will affect the annual SuperCopa MX—which pitted both Copa MX champions of the footballing year against each other—in the summer, or if it will continue at all.
Liga MX Femenil:
In Liga MX Femenil, the group format will vanish and each team will now be allowed to field six players older than 25 and six U.S.-Mexico dual-citizens. Previously, only players born in Mexico could feature in Liga MX Femenil. The 2019 Apertura season will also begin on July 19.
What do you think of all the adjustments? Which ones do you like? Which ones don’t you like? Let us know in the comments below!
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