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How the new look Liga MX ‘play-in’ system will work

A series of changes were approved by the Liga MX ownership groups including a new television model, end to multi-club ownership and a new playoff system.

Ciudad de México
MX League Champion Trophy.
David Leah

New FMF president Juan Carlos Rodriguez’s first tasks in his new role will be the overseeing of a new “Executive Commission of Mexican Soccer” with this new body set to manage issues such as the sale of television rights and multi-club ownership and oversee a new structure to the second tier Liga MX Expansion League which will merge with the new Under 23 competition.

Adios repechaje

One of the many issues agreed at the meeting in Toluca on Monday was to overhaul the ‘repechaje’ system. At present after the current Apertura and Clausura ‘short’ regular seasons, the top 12 sides (from a league of 18 clubs) advance to the postseason with the top four fast tracked to the quarter final stage with 5th playing 12th, 6th vs 11th, 7th vs 10th and 8th and 9th going head to head in a one-off round of games known as el ‘repechaje’.

These are single round games with the winner advancing to the quarter final stage. Should a ‘repechaje’ tie end in a draw, then the game goes straight to penalties to determine the victor.

Tigres players celebrate
Full screen
Tigres players celebrateMIGUEL SIERRAEFE

This current repechaje system was re-introduced as a result of the financial impact the Covid-19 crisis with clubs calling for the governing body to assure greater opportunities for all participating teams to keep their respective seasons alive and hence maximize revenue streams. This system was established for the Guardianes 2020 tournament and will now be replaced with a “play-in” model as used in the NBA.

How does the new NBA style play-in work?

As of the conclusion of the 2023 Apertura season, the top six sides will automatically advance to the postseason quarter-final liguilla. The winner of a play-in match between the teams that finish in seventh and eighth place also advances the liguilla. The loser of this game then plays the winner of the contest between the sides that finish ninth and tenth in the regular season.