Watch a football match from Mexico’s top-flight football league Liga MX and you might be confused. The league is split into two seasons with the Apertura taking place followed by the Clausura. The two parts of the season even have their own playoffs crowing two champions.
The Apertura runs from July to December and the Clausura takes place from January to May. This allows Liga MX to stay in the FIFA calendar.
Liga MX is competed by 18 teams with the Apertura featuring clubs playing 17 matches. Each team plays the other teams once. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs to determine the champion of the Apertura or Clausura.
Liga MX isn’t the only major league to split into two halves. The format is often used by leagues in Central and South America. The Argentine league used the same format from 1990 to 2013 before changing it. The North American Soccer League, a former second division competition in the United States and Canada, famously introduced the Apertura and Clausura in 2013. It confused fans and was a flop.
Confusion is one of the biggest problems football fans have with the Liga MX and other divisions that use the Apertura and Clausura. The biggest question football fans have is why the format is used?
The simple answer as to why the season is split and two champions are crowned with two different playoffs, is it builds excitement. Leagues believe the two-season and two-playoff format leads to bigger audiences on TV and in stadiums.
It is claimed that with short seasons in which teams only play once, adds importance to win and it’s even higher than a longer season in which teams play each other twice.
There are arguments for and against playing a long season compared to the split seasons with playoffs. A long season crowns a true champion, yet the split season puts more emphasis on winning every game. In addition, proponents claim that split seasons and playoffs allow more derbies to be played between rivals. Unfortunately, too many derbies water down the rivalries.
Regardless, Liga MX is one of the most well-supported football leagues in the world. Although the split season is confusing, it isn’t going anywhere and fans must adapt to it.