A Ittigen, les représentants des clubs romands, à l’image de Lausanne, Yverdon et Sion, ont voté en faveur de la nouvelle formule. 

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

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Twelve clubs in the Super League and play-offs from 2023: by saying yes twice, the presidents validated a necessary double change. Both sport cannot live on the margins of the evolution of society.

In Ittigen, the representatives of the French-speaking clubs, like 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 insistent lobbying of historical opponents led by Young Boys nor the late revolt of supporters were enough to derail the overhaul of the Super League. In Ittigen, the leaders of the twenty clubs making up the Swiss Football League largely approved this Friday the opening of the elite to 12 teams from the 2023-2024 season. In the process, they mostly said yes to a new championship formula including the introduction of play-off.

While heated discussions were predicted, there was no suspense or night of the long knives in the Bernese suburbs. During an extraordinary assembly conducted at a brisk pace, the project submitted to the vote was validated to the nearest comma, without being the least bit challenged, in less than three turns of the clock.

Fallen into routine

Each of the two objects was ratified by an overwhelming majority – respectively 19 and 16 votes out of a total of 20 votes. In order not to expose themselves to reversals of jackets, the leaders of the League had this time taken care to mark out the ground. By making sure to “lock” the votes beforehand during a preparatory consultation held secretly.

This double yes was, moreover, expected, even hoped for for years. Apart from the resizing 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 financing and above all to give back sporting interest in a championship that has fallen into routine.

To change as we are about to do concretely in 12 months, it is not to deny the past as the nostalgic assert it but to invent a better future. This is in no way a headlong rush, it’s just a chance that should be seized. When society is constantly changing and constantly having to 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 partisans of change prevailed over those of the proponents of conservatism. We can certainly quibble endlessly about the supposed lack of ethics of distorted play-offs (disputed over two matches), having nothing to do with those we know in the ice rinks (where hockey players play each series at the best of the seven matches).

New mode of consumption

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

By bringing the Rumo formula up to date while sprinkling it with a hint of additional appeal, Switzerland has chosen to turn its back on twenty years of immobility and live with the times by innovating.

With hindsight, what do we remember from a season if not the decisive meetings, those that really matter insofar as something happens there. Considering the solo riders of Basel, Young Boys and Zurich in recent years, it’s been too long since anything has happened on Swiss lawns.

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

Don’t touch my formula? The presidents of the 20 SFL clubs have finally swept away a myth that no longer has any reason to exist. The revolution is on. Let’s applaud her!

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