WHY DOES THE LIGA MX PLAY TWO SEASONS IN A CALENDAR YEAR?
If you have ever watched the Liga MX, you may be confused by one of the key aspects of the Mexican top flight.
Liga MX teams play two league seasons in one calendar year. While major leagues in Europe play one long season, Mexico’s top clubs compete in two short tournaments complete with playoffs. It can be difficult to understand the league structure if you are only familiar with European football. So, why does Liga MX have two seasons in a year?
The Apertura and Clausura
Liga Mx consists of two tournaments during the year, the Apertura and Clausura. Each tournament comes with its own playoff at the end and crowns a champion. The Mexican top flight currently consists of 18 teams with each club playing 17 matches per tournament. Teams play just once against each team. Teams that play at home in the Apertura play away in the reverse fixture in the Clausura.
At the end of each tournament, the top eight clubs qualify for the playoffs – known as La Liguilla. The team that wins the playoffs is crowned champion of the tournament. Once the Apertura and Clausura are finished and a champion is crowned for each tournament, the Campeon de Campeones is held. The match crowns the overall champion.
...But why does Liga MX play two tournaments?
The Mexican top flight started using the two-tournament system in 1996 with the format has changed slightly over the years. The Apertura takes place from July to December while the Clausura runs from January to May. In July, the Campeon de Campeones takes place.
One of the main reasons for the shorter tournaments with two playoffs is that it creates more drama and excitement throughout the year. Theoretically, the tournaments draw more interest from fans as they keep supporters invested in each short season. Rather than having a long season in which fan interest can be lost due to one team running away with the title, supporters remain excited for every round. The playoffs add even more excitement as any one of the eight teams that qualify can win the postseason.
However, excitement is just one reason for the use of the split-season system. Money is the other reason Liga MX continues to use the Apertura and Clausura. The money brought in from sponsors, TV, and ticket revenue adds more financial support to each club and league overall.
Do any other leagues use the split-season system?
Mexico isn’t the only country to use the split-season system. While it is rare – or not seen at all – in Europe, several countries in Central American or South American use the system. Leagues in Argentina, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, and Paraguay all use the split-season system. Each country’s football league does differ slightly.
Argentina’s Primera Division had used the split-season for a number of years. However, it recently changed to a single-season format. At one time, both Japan and South Korea’s top-flight football leagues used the two-season system. Both Japan and South Korea now use the single-season like other countries in Asia and Europe.