Televisa Derby Gives Relegation Battle Unwelcome Attention

Seasons are culminating all over the world. Over the next few weeks, champions will be crowned. In most leagues, though, the champ is decided in the weeks prior. It’s kinda anti-climactic… like finally turning 21 when you had been drinking all along.

I’ve always found the relegation battles more compelling. The tension is palpable. It is usually more tense than a cup final. And if your team can manage to stay in the top flight, it’s almost as good as winning the league. A few years ago, a dramatic stoppage time goal allowed San Luis to avert the dreaded drop.

[ame="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kfhXsoqtzRM"]Salvacion de San Luis[/ame]

One year later, my Pumas were mired in the drop zone. Every loss was extra tough to take. And because of the Mexican Primera’s convoluted relegation table (points earned from 3 years worth of tournaments are divided by games played), the calculator came out and that what if scenarios were concocted. Luckily, Pumas played well enough to rise above the zone well before season’s end. Once they were safe, it was a huge relief.

As this season progressed, it was clear that Necaxa, Tigres, and recently promoted Ciudad Juarez would be the ones who would be in the relegation quicksand. Last week, Indios (cd. Juarez) added to Cruz Azul’s misery with a 1-0 away win that pulled them up to higher ground. Necaxa could only manage a tie with Atlante while Tigres, with their crazy high payroll, tenured coach, and ridiculous resources were systematically taken apart by Toluca.

As it stands now, Tigres has a one point margin on points, so a win sends Necaxa packing regardless of what the electricistas do. Let’s hope that happens, because otherwise there might be some ‘splaining to do.

Necaxa plays America at the Azteca. Both are owned by Televisa, as is San Luis. Players bounce around the three teams from season to season. Televisa has 3 votes in the FMF, not to mention the largest media company in Latin America and broadcaster of Mexican Primera games. What would be the best result for the company?

America does have a chance to make the liguilla if a complicated algorhythm of possibilities falls their way. Necaxa has to have the win to survive in the top flight, and reap the financial rewards that go long with it. The FMF understands this conflict of interest, so both games have been scheduled to be played simultaneously. But teams have radios, and if Tigres is losing or tied, will the call come?

This could have been avoided. Necaxa was only 6 points from the bottom at the beginning of the Apertura, so there was a definite chance that they could have fallen. I don’t necessarily think the fix is in, but it would look a lot better if these two would not be playing in the last week. It’s a lose-lose. America wins, Necaxa is gone. Necaxa wins, and it’s bye-bye Liguilla for the Azulcremas. And their poor performances over the past few seasons puts them squarely in the relegation battle for next year.

High drama indeed.