After a meeting between club owners, Liga MX announced that the 2020 Apertura will start on July 24. It has been previously speculated that the season would start on July 17, but according to the league they decided to give teams an extra week to prepare. The games will be played with no public because of the COVID-19 emergency. Also announced was the fact that the Liguilla will have twelve teams instead of eight. The first four teams will get a bye to the Quarterfinals, while the teams that finish from fifth through twelfth will play a one game playoff in the home stadium of the highest ranked team. The winners will go through to the quarterfinals.
The COVID-19 emergency forced the cancellation of the Clausura 2020 tournament. The emergency has been getting worse in Mexico, but the health authorities cleared Liga MX to play as long as games didn’t have fans in the stands and teams went through the local protocols according to the government “stoplight”. Mexican health authorities have made a warning system based on traffic stoplights, with red being the highest alert level (and thus the one where the lockdown is more intense), yellow being the more moderate level, and green the least restrictive. The Liga MX final will be on December 12, but if a team is playing the FIFA Club World Cup and the final it will be pushed until December 23 and 27.
The other big news is the return of the “Repechaje” in the liguilla. In the era when Mexican teams were divided by groups, it was an extra playoff that would happen when third placed teams had more points than second place teams. The winners will go through to the Quarterfinals. The new format means that teams that finish from fifth through twelfth will play in this new repechaje in a one game playoff at home (the old format had them play a normal two games home and away series) with the winners going through to the Quarterfinals. Rumors are that this increase was done to offset the huge losses clubs have had because of the cancellation of the last tournament, since Liguilla games are more profitable than regular season ones. The move is supposed to take place in only the next two liguillas, but there is no telling if it will be permanent with Liga MX.
Among the other news from the meeting was the approval of the relocation of Monarcas Morelia to Mazatlan as well as the selling of Club Queretaro by Grupo Caliente to a group of investors. Other news are that clubs will have to pay their players in Mexican Pesos and not dollars, and that there will be stricter regulation for the taxes. Mexico’s government has become stricter in the recollection of taxes and it seems Mexican clubs will be under its watchful eye. So there were a lot of changes but if this summer has shown us anything, it is that Mexican football is anything but consistent.