It’s officially time to call out Grupo Caliente, owner of both Xolos de Tijuana and Gallos Blancos de Querétaro - 2 of Mexico’s 18 top tier football franchises - for the rightful role it’s played in sinking these two clubs to such a place of irrelevance and embarrassment that they find themselves not just at the tail end, but at the tail end of the tail end of the “relegation” battle. Of course relegation goes in quotation marks because there’s still no actual relegation this year; the “relegation” punishment is a fine.
Wondering just how much that fine is? I’m so glad you asked. It’s $80 million MXN for the club that finishes 18th, otherwise known as last, and $47 million MXN for 17th. In addition, a $33 million MXN fine goes for the club that finishes 16th. That means if the season ended today, Grupo Caliente would be forced to cough up a total of $127 million MXN in relegation fines for their two franchises. Now, I’ll explain just how likely it is for that to happen.
To put it simply, it’s extremely likely. I’ll start with Querétaro. There’s just no chance they catch anybody. They sit dead last in the race and have won just 1 game out of their last 20 since July and have only obtained 77 points in their last 88 matches (6 seasons). With 14 matches to go in the regular season, they’d have to win 8 of those to nearly break even in % points. If you don’t understand the unlikeliness of that, it’s more likely we land on Mars before that happens at this point. Xolos de Tijuana are their closest rival and are 9 points out of reach. Just can’t see them catching up despite Gerk doing a good job with his limited squad.
Next up, Tijuana. They’re currently 17th in the race with 86 points and are 9 points behind their closest rival, Mazatlán FC, who oh by the way have a game in hand, so that differential could grow even further. They also have the worst goal difference in the entire league over the past 6 seasons (-55) and are already at -3 in just three games this season (league worst). Just as its brother club Querétaro did, Xolos suffered a ton of changes this offseason and don’t look to have improved a whole lot in the young Clausura 2023 season.
How did both clubs get here?
Gallos Blancos de Querétaro
You can take a quick look at their past years’ numbers. Again, we’ll start with Querétaro. Let’s rewind all the way back to the Apertura (Guard1anes) 2020. Grupo Caliente had just sold Gallos to a group of investors who also owned Atlante at the time and clearly had no interest in making this team a serious contender or a serious anything really. They filled out the roster with a bunch of Atlante Liga de Expansión players and other fillers just to get it rolling, and finished 17th with just 13 points. The Clausura 2021 was a little better with the signing of Antonio Valencia, but the club still barely made the Repechaje finishing 12th with 21 points. It’s all been downhill from there.
The last time they made the playoffs was in the Clausura 2021 in their 5-0 Repechaje loss to Santos Laguna. The way this franchise has been handled is just an embarrassment for the entire league to say the least and have been nothing but trouble and disappointment despite the great fanbase the city of Querétaro has. It’s a shame it hasn’t gotten the ownership group it truly deserves.
Xolos de Tijuana
The other club that has been so blatantly mishandled. Over the past five seasons, their best finish was 14th overall. The last time this club was even in the playoffs was back in the Clausura 2019 when they finished 8th and lost immediately in the QF round. And that’s including the expanded 12-team playoff system implemented since the COVID pandemic.
The biggest surprise to me is how quick Grupo Caliente built such a good squad en route to their first title in franchise history, just a year after winning promotion. But since then, they’ve slowly let the team slip to the point of the abysmal state it’s been in over the past 3+ years.
If these clubs don’t start winning consistently as of this weekend, Grupo Caliente will have one big fine to pay off. Why they’d rather pay that fine instead of spending it on their clubs’ rosters and put together competitive teams is beyond me. Along with that, the acquisition of Gallos Blancos three years ago makes no sense, considering they couldn’t even have success with one franchise. Why anyone in their camp thought they’d be successful with two is just asinine, unless they acquired Gallos for other reasons.
Furthermore, their failure to sell Gallos over the past semester due to the club’s diminishing value. I mean, come on. The franchise with the least interesting players, wretched rep after the Atlas brawl, and oh yeah, an $80 million MXN fine due in the summer. What do they expect? Just sell the club and be thankful you did after what’s happened to it.
To be honest, the picture looks dire for both of these clubs. Their business model of selling any good player that comes along to consistently keep their clubs in the bottom third of the table as well as their total lack of interest in improving upon their rosters makes one question what they’re even doing as owners in the league. These clubs would be better off being sold to anyone at this point. In the meantime, these two ill-fated franchises will continue to serve as stepping stones to the rest of the league.