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Bonilla pivots; Promotion to return to Liga MX for 2021-22 season

For no apparent reason, Promotion to First Division will be reinstated much sooner than originally announced

Liga MX Unveils Official Ball Photo by Hector Vivas/LatinContent via Getty Images

During a recent interview with ESPN, Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla appeared, not clarify but to ‘reclarify’ the league’s stance regarding Promotion/Relegation situation. But hadn’t he already made an appearance a month and a half ago to explain the league had already made the decision to cut Promotion and Relegation for the next six years? YES. And didn’t FMF president Yon de Luisa make an appearance less than a month ago disproving Bonilla’s previous statement by saying that if teams were ready within a three-year period, they could be promoted by then? YES. Finally, Bonilla appears again to disprove de Luisa and say that in a mere year teams will be able to be promoted? YES. What we have just witnessed by league officials are three stance changes on the same subject in a month and a half.

Make no mistake; Relegation remains a no-go until following the 2026 World Cup. What has changed are the Promotion rules, for the third time. Bonilla also confirmed the amounts owed by the last 3 places in the ‘Relegation’ table starting this season, even though there will be no Relegation. “For the 2020-21 season, the last place in the Relegation table will have a $120 million MXN peso sanction, second to last $70 million MXN pesos, and third to last $50 million MXN pesos… Concerning Promotion and Relegation, as I mentioned in the previous meeting, Relegation is the one that is closed for the following six years, and starting this season all the clubs from the new Liga de Ascenso can begin to present all documentation, fulfill all requirements, be supervised with economic control in such a way that for the 2021-22 season they can compete for Promotion.”

He went on to say that any team who wins their Promotion competitively speaking and fulfills the Liga MX requirements can be competing in First Division come the 2022-23 season. Very different from what he and de Luisa stated not long ago.

A couple things must be mentioned regarding this. First off, why did Liga MX owners change their stance so soon if they had supposedly established a six-year time frame? Did they get hit by generosity fairy dust? Are they showing how nice they truly are? Of course not. Let’s not forget that following the league’s unilateral decision of cancelling Promotion/Relegation, Correcaminos UAT, Leones Negros UdeG, and Venados de Merida teamed up and formally appealed to said decision with the TAS, where sports disputes are officially settled in Mexico.

How convenient that as soon as this occurred, de Luisa cuts the Promotion time frame in half (from six to three years), and now Bonilla has lowered it even further, to just one year without Promotion. What about the six-year plan? Sounds like a few Liga MX owners got a little scared if you ask me, and knowing their chances weren’t optimal, decided to give in.

Secondly, Bonilla is not the one to blame. He is but a mere messenger. The owners are the ones making up all these rules on the fly, and oh what a disaster it has been. In Mexico, we are unfortunately very used to these kinds of inexplicable situations, but being on the outside looking in, what a terrible message and image FMF and Liga MX are sending to the rest of the world. Summed up in a sentence, ‘we have no clue about what we’re doing and we just don’t care.’

Who will define the ‘requirements’ that must be fulfilled to take part in Liga MX and what will those be? We can’t expect to know that much at this point. But one thing is for sure; This is a great win for all Liga de Expansión teams because they have reduced the time frame considerably on something that was taken away from them very unfairly. They’ll get this entire year to regroup, plan, and be ready with all the Liga MX ‘requirements’ checked to ultimately compete for a spot in Liga MX by the start of the 2021-22 season.

What is definitely not a victory is how little seriousness these matters are dealt with by league officials. Blunder after blunder continues to occur, and all we see are the shaking of people’s heads all around the country in disbelief and disappointment. With a month and a half still to go before the start of the Apertura 2020, we’ll see what other sudden changes and shifts in league decisions surface.