Enrique Bonilla, Liga MX president, appeared on ESPN to be interviewed by John Sutcliffe on Friday, where he was questioned on the many topics that have stirred rumor after rumor about what is to come for both the top-tier and second-tier in Mexican football. Some answers were a little settling, while others weren’t so much.
First off, he stated that the league will not be the Liga de Desarrollo, but “we’re going to call it a Liga de Expansión”, he stated. With this, they are looking for mainly three things: 1) Players to be ceratin they will receive their paycheck every 15 days; 2) They want participating teams to be able to consolidate into companies that are capable of participating in the football industry and to have sustainable projects; 3) They are trying to consolidate and improve the product (Ascenso MX as a league), and not eliminate it. Go figure with that third one, as they’ll say anything to calm the crowds. But the rest of it I do understand, since it is no secret most Ascenso MX teams had big financial issues to go along with empty stadiums and low income on broadcasting rights. Not to mention the quality of the league, which we all know has been pretty bad lately.
Another point was the economic relief package that will be destined to each of the 12 teams in Ascenso MX, which will now make up the new development league. A total of $240 million pesos are to be distributed equally among those 12 teams ($20 million per team) for the next five years. The funding for this will come from the last three places in the relegation fight (Last place will pay $120 million, second-to-last pays $70 million, third-to-last pays $50 million). This package will begin this fall, and this will help cover the entirety of all the players’ contracts who are now left without a job thanks to the new age limit (23). At least they will have their final contract be honored, if that is any consolation at all.
He also believes personally that the 20-team plan will not be achievable for this next year, as it is too little time for such a big change. Yet he mentions in the interview that they will be discussing this subject in next month’s owners’ assembly, so we all know what that means; it can definitely still happen.
Sutcliffe also questions him on if these changes are geared toward easing the transition into a Liga MX – MLS merger. He answered, “No. these changes are, I repeat, part of a process to improve and consolidate ourselves internally, and to establish very clear rules, not only for the participants, but for the investors, who would have doubts investing their money at any given moment, with the possibility of being relegated in 10 months and therefore losing all of their investment.” He went on to state that, “For the time being, in this case 5 years or less, if the project is able to consolidate by then…”, in relation to Ascenso MX returning, meaning this will only be a five-year temporary situation.
And this pretty much sums up his entire interview. For some reason, I have a hard time believing that entire last paragraph. While he says that these changes in particular aren’t geared toward transitioning a merger between the two leagues, he never denies the possibility of that happening at some point. And he also doesn’t assure at any point that there will ever be a promotion-relegation system in Mexico again. I believe 5 years is just a form of speech. If they realize everything is working out and going in the right trend, they will have no reason to bring back a second-tier in Mexico. The famous “wiggle-room” rule, if you will.
Now, I’m not saying that’s a problem necessarily, but what is, is that they don’t make things clear from the start. It’s obviously not in their best interests that we know the entire truth about where professional football in Mexico is headed, because this gives them a chance to adjust on the go as they feel is right, disregarding fans, players, and many teams in the league entirely, as we just witnessed last week. Now that is a problem.