Football: Commentary: Swiss football has chosen to move with the times


Twelve clubs in the Super League and play-offs from 2023: by saying yes twice, the presidents ratified a necessary double substitution. Both sports cannot live on the margins of society’s evolution.

In Ittigen, the representatives of the French-speaking clubs, such as Lausanne, Yverdon and Sion, voted in favor of the new formula.

Claudio De Capitani/freshfocus

Swiss football has made its revolution; there was no reversal of trends. Neither the continued lobbying of historic opponents led by the Young Boys nor the belated uprising from supporters were enough to derail the Super League overhaul. In Ittigen, the leaders of the twenty clubs that make up the Swiss football league largely approved the opening of the elite for 12 teams from the 2023-2024 season this Friday. They especially said yes to a new championship formula, including the introduction of play-off.

While heated discussions were predicted, there was no tension or night of the long knives in the Bernese suburbs. In an extraordinary meeting that was held at a rapid pace, the project put to the vote was validated to the nearest decimal point in less than three turns of the clock, without being challenged in the least.

In routine cases

Each of the two objectives was endorsed by an overwhelming majority – 19 and 16 votes respectively out of a total of 20 votes. In order not to expose themselves to inversions of jackets, the leaders of the League had this time made sure to mark the ground. By pre-locking the votes during a secret preparatory meeting.

Incidentally, this double yes had been expected for years, even hoped for. Apart from the size of the Challenge League, nothing had changed since the creation of the two professional leagues in 2003. Faced with a competition that had become so sclerotic, it became urgent to find a new engine, possible new sources of funding and above all to return sporting interest in a championship that has fallen into routine.

To change as we will concretely do in 12 months, it is not to deny the past as the nostalgic people claim it, but to invent a better future. This is in no way a stiff-necked rush, it’s just an opportunity that needs to be seized. If society is constantly changing and has to constantly adapt, why should football be exempt from this evolution? Nothing is permanently set in stone, let alone a formula.

This Friday, the arguments of the supporters of change took precedence over those of the proponents of conservatism. We could certainly quibble endlessly about the alleged lack of ethics of distorted playoffs (disputed over two games), which have nothing to do with those we know on the rinks (where hockey players play each series on the best of the seven games) .

New way of consumption

The goal lies elsewhere, in the ability to revive a championship that was running out, even if it means artificially. Since the Swiss Super League is neither the German Bundesliga nor the English Premier League, with classic formulas that are self-sufficient and much more substantial TV rights, solutions must be found. The introduction of knockout matches is one of them. To return to the stadium, even if consumption patterns have changed, the potential spectator must be fully interested. But in order to experience emotions there, he also needs tension, a new challenge because it is different.

By keeping the Rumo formula up-to-date and sprinkling it with a touch of extra appeal, Switzerland has chosen to turn its back on twenty years of immobility and move with the times by innovating.

What do we remember in retrospect of a season other than the decisive meetings, which really matter as far as something happens there. Given the solo riders of Basel, Young Boys and Zurich in recent years, it’s been too long since anything happened on Swiss grass pitches.

Breaking with tradition is the guarantee to offer a more stimulating product. The establishment of a “finalissima” for the awarding of the title will thus make it possible to vibrate crescendo. The same goes for the play-offs (places 3 to 10), except that the last drafted, unlike hockey where he can become champion, can only finish in European.

Don’t touch my formula? The presidents of the 20 SFL clubs have finally dispelled a myth that has no reason to exist anymore. The revolution is underway. Let’s cheer her!

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