Liga MX, MLS joint league has long-term benefits - Irarragorri

Santos Laguna and Atlas owner Alejandro Irarragorri is adamant that MLS offers an example of sustainable growth for Liga MX and that a North American super-league would be beneficial for both leagues in the long term.

Irarragorri's statement comes after Liga MX announced it would be suspending promotion and relegation for the next five years, which has caused a fierce debate and split opinions in Mexico.

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Irarragorri pointed out that attracting new ownership groups to Mexican football has been difficult and added that the MLS model has proved more sustainable.

"A high percentage of Mexican football's income comes from the USA," wrote Irarragorri. "Their league [MLS] has been growing in an ordered, slow, but consistent way in all senses: commercially, infrastructure, financial structure, diffusion and on the field."

Irarragorri stated that MLS generates a higher annual revenue than Liga MX and that the type of investors and solidity of the league bodes well for future growth.

Liga MX and MLS became official partners in March 2018. They currently play the Campeones Cup and Leagues Cup and engage in various other off-field initiatives.

For Irarragorri, developing the partnership is beneficial for both, including working toward a North American super-league. MLS commissioner Don Garber has previously suggested a combined league would be a "powerful force" in North American sports.

"It's probable that the possible creation of a North American super league is best for MLS in the short term and for Liga MX in the medium term, but over the long term it is best for both and the potential to add value and create jobs is immense," wrote Irarragorri. "Without doubt it is an alternative that should be explored and analyzed."

Liga MX president Enrique Bonilla said Friday that TV revenue, sponsorship and gate receipts in Ascenso MX were all spiraling downward and that the current global crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic had accentuated lingering problems.

Ascenso MX clubs voted in favor of the decision to suspend promotion and relegation earlier this week, with Bonilla confirming a rescue package of sorts, with each of the 12 second-division teams receiving 20 million pesos ($845,000) every year. That was ratified by Liga MX club owners on Friday, although the vote on the issue was reportedly split.

The second division will become a developmental league for younger Mexican players, but there was no news about how that will work. Reports have suggested that there will be a limit on players over the age of 23, which may mean older players will lose their jobs.

The decision to end promotion and relegation has not been received well by all, with the Mexican players' association (AMFpro) stating that it will be producing a collective agreement between players to protect them moving forward.

"Once again, guarantees and security for the lead protagonists in this sport don't exist," the AMFpro statement read. "They made unilateral decisions at the table, [used] the shelter of the current critical situation the country is living through and without any further explanation about the 'new project' [for the second division]."

Well-known Mexican internationals such as Carlos Vela, Hector Herrera and Miguel Layun have expressed their support for players in the second division.

Leones Negros president Alberto Castellano stressed that his club had improved its stadium, developed a youth system and a women's team, and invested in the team to win promotion and earn a place in Liga MX, the possibility of which he said has now been taken away.

"We ask, what is the rush to remove promotion? What is happening?" said Castellano's statement. "Don't leave everything to speculation, somebody explain to us why, despite everything we have done, it isn't possible to compete for promotion on the field."