Roughly three weeks ago it was confirmed that the group who owned Morelia, Grupo Salinas, had decided to relocate their team to the city of Mazatlán, in search of better economic results. That situation is perfectly normal and acceptable, and in fact, we have seen these kinds of moves in other main sports in the US particularly. The interesting part is that we rarely, possibly never see this kind of move in other soccer leagues around the world, at least in the biggest or most important ones. This is an extremely rare situation in the world of soccer because of the existence of the Promotion/Relegation system. When somebody wants to have a team in the highest tier of their country, they must earn it by competitive merits, and not simply by economic ones. And once a team is established in the highest tier, they are very rarely relocated. That doesn’t apply to Mexico though.
Liga MX has been the home to some of the most incredible, jaw-dropping switching of teams that probably any other football league in the world has seen. The way the league has allowed owners to move, switch, relocate, and basically handle their teams in the way they have is down-right embarrassing. Teams that have earned their right to remain at the top level have all of a sudden lost that right in the blink of an eye because a better bidder came along or the current ownership saw a better business opportunity elsewhere, such as Morelia’s situation, leaving the fans from that city with nothing but empty hands and nostalgic memories.
So, how has Grupo Salinas handled this situation with the fans from their previous location? What image have they given to the public in general about truly caring and managing this in a correct and orderly manner? Well, to put it bluntly, zero. Let’s have a look at the main events that have gone down.
First, the news of Morelia being relocated to Mazatlán came out of the blue, literally. Nobody knew about it. Rumors about the move started to swirl on a Saturday night, and not even a week later, the move was being confirmed by everyone, mainly the governor of Sinaloa who acted as PR Manager in this ordeal. Fans were left wondering and questioning ‘what in the world’ happened.
Next, the move was announced and no sort of goodbye or thank you event was planned or took place. Since we were in the middle of a world-wide pandemic, nothing could’ve been planned anyhow. But instead of acknowledging this and releasing a statement about a future event or at least waiting until it’s safe to do it, the move was announced and the rest was history. By the time fans got together to protest in the streets of Morelia, the Monarcas were long gone. That’s right. The fans who supported the team, bought tickets and team merch for 70 years weren’t even allowed to say good-bye to their team properly.
As if that wasn’t enough, Grupo Salinas even decided to retain the rights to the name and logo of Monarcas Morelia, meaning that if there is ever another group of investors who decide to revive football in the city, they won’t be allowed to use either the name or logo of the team that had existed there for 70 years. Not only were fans left without football, but the image and identity of their life-long team was just ripped out from under its roots entirely.
And last, but not least, their social media “hacking.” Not wanting to lose current followers, Grupo Salinas decided to simply morph the Monarcas accounts into the Mazatlán accounts, not caring what people said and eliminating any possible lasting memory of Morelia’s team. They even showed their cynicism by stating the following in their welcoming post: “Welcome to the @MazatlanFC twitter account. Whoever wants to remain on the ship, welcome aboard, whoever doesn’t, please throw yourself overboard. #ARREbatando.” Clearly not a friendly welcome. This statement speaks for itself.
The best response from this entire ordeal came from Panini Mexico, the company who makes all the sports sticker albums in the country, by posting a tweet trolling the newly revealed Mazatlán FC logo. The tweet posted on Monday read, “Here pasting the Mazatlán sticker… Oh no! It’s @ManCity’s”. The Mazatlán logo does indeed resemble that of the English club. Just a little giggle in the middle of this ‘tragedy.’ What’s funny is that it came from a company who makes sticker albums. That’s how much this move resonated with people around the country.
Grupo Salinas have clearly set the example of how not to manage a team relocation. Unfortunately, there are probably many more of these kinds of moves to come in Mexico in the future. Hopefully those owners learn from what has transpired here.