Argentinian Top Soccer League to Become 38-Team Competition

July 27, 2011

The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has announced plans to overhaul the country’s domestic soccer league.

In a move that is set to favour fallen giant River Plate, who were relegated last month after a play-off defeat to Belgrano, as the proposal put forward is to merge the country’s two top divisions to create a 38-team tournament from the 2012-13 season.

Teams will be split into two zones of 19 with traditional rivals like River and Boca Juniors kept apart before facing each other in ‘inter-zone’ matches. The plans call for the top five teams in each zone to advance to a Championship Stage, which will determine the league champion, while the other 28 will compete to avoid relegation.

The proposal was set forward by AFA president Julio Grondona, and AFA’s Executive Committee has approved it through a unanimous decision. A total of 22 votes backed the proposal with four abstentions and a single vote of opposition from Bahia Blanca outfit Club Olimpo. The new format must now be ratified by the Executive Committee with a decision expected on October 18.

The announcement means River, which suffered relegation last month for the first time in its 110-year history, should spend just one season in the Nacional B division before the new format comes into play.