Photo via Infobae

The main representatives or Argentine football clubs yesterday reached an agreement to create a new competition format for Argentine football. It will be called “Super League” (Superliga), and is set to become official today in an extraordinary meeting in the Argentine Football Association (AFA).

The new competition format and, more importantly, the distribution of the money coming from Fútbol Para Todos (FPT) — the government-sponsored program that broadcasts the national football league on public television — for TV rights were the main obstacles that had to be overcome to reach the agreement. Consensus was finally reached after second division clubs — who opposed the league the most — were granted more funds and more representatives on the league’s board.

The AFA building (photo via diaadia.com)
The AFA building (photo via diaadia.com)

The government will allocate AR $2.5 billion to the Super League this year, which will distribute the money the following way:

  • 78 percent will go to the first division. This represents about AR $1.9 billion. River and Boca, the clubs with the most fans (and hence the larger TV ratings) will get AR $98 million a year each. Independiente, San Lorenzo, Racing and Vélez, the second batch, if you will, will get around AR $75 million a year, while the remaining funds will be distributed among the other 24 clubs that are still part of the first division. They’ll get a bit over AR $55 million each.
  • 12 percent will go to second division teams, who will also exclusively get AR $80 million from private broadcaster TyC Sports, also for TV rights, and an extra AR $72 million from a “solidary fund” provided by first division teams. This means a 70 percent increase for these teams, and totals a bit over the AR $1.5 million pesos per month each demanded to approve the Super League (the “solidary fund” now looks a bit like a “give us AR $72 million or we won’t give you the Super League fund”).
  • The other lower divisions will get 8 percent of the funding, while the remaining 2 percent will be destined to administrative expenses.

However, according to Clarín, the government will only hand over the money once the “normalizing committee” appointed by FIFA takes over AFA and begins administrating the association as well as controlling the clubs. This “normalizing committee” might sound a bit unfamiliar, so let’s recap a bit to remember what it is.

Last month, several high-ranking AFA officials were removed from their posts after Federal Judge María Servini de Cubría prosecuted them for allegedly embezzling funds coming from FPT. The judge also found enough evidence to believe several representatives from football clubs were also embezzling part of the money they did get in concept of FPT TV rights. With AFA drifting away, Servini de Cubría reached an agreement with FIFA to appoint the aforementioned committee, which will administer the association until new elections are held to appoint a new president.

Judge Servini de Cubría. Photo via dr24
Judge Servini de Cubría. Photo via dr24

Servini de Cubría also prosecuted three former cabinet chiefs for allegedly embezzling part of the money they were supposed to give AFA.

As you can imagine, this created an institutional chaos that led the presidents of River, Racing, Boca and San Lorenzo to hand over their resignations from AFA in May to force a discussion about this Super League, which they believe is key to getting things back on track.

According to them, this new format aims at improving competition and better wealth distribution among clubs. Shortly after resigning, the presidents of these four large clubs that went rogue brought the president of the Spanish Football League (LFP), Javier Tebas, to explain to other club representatives how the format works. However, two months — and infinite discussions as to how money should be distributed — had to go by until the representatives from the smaller clubs agreed to go for it.

Ok, now that the money has been settled, how will this work? The league will create an entity that will organize the first and second division tournaments and have nothing to do with AFA. It will distribute income as agreed upon and leave AFA in charge of the lower, regional divisions.

Regarding the sporting aspects, the format will introduce the following changes:

  • The first division will progressively go back to having a 20-team tournament (it now has 30)
  • AFA won’t control the disciplinary committee nor will it appoint referees for “Super League” matches
  • The “Super League” will respect the European schedule (August-June)
  • However, AFA will still have representation before the international organizations.