What is relegation in soccer?

what is relegation in soccer

The fact remains that soccer is as much fun as it is a competition which puts teams in a competing spirit to emerge as the winner of the contest. Like most competitions, there would always be dropdowns or the disqualified. In soccer, relegation has its place as a position-based system of performance for participating teams. 

While there could be many lovers of soccer in America who may not be familiar with the system of ranking in leagues, this article will deliver the concept of relegation mainly as most American sports like the Major League Soccer do not apply the concept of relegation – teams are not relegated. 

Relegation occurs when a soccer team loses their place from the league – having played in a season – to a lower league for the following season. A team is dropped from their current league to a low-quality league; more like in the form of demotion.

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What does Relegation mean in Soccer?

In soccer, relegation results from the performance of a team due to their poor performance during practice. The team is transferred to a lower league from the one they played in a season. They would be consigned to play in a lower league in the upcoming season.

The concept of Relegation and Promotion in European and North American sports is significantly different. The elite leagues of North American sports mainly use the closed league structure where the same teams play each other seasonally.

Although the closed league is peculiar to North American sports, there is the occasion of temporal modification where changes in participation only occur when either the league body invites another team or a team in the league decides to withdraw. The NFL, MLS, NBA, and MLB are examples of leagues that operate a closed league system.

In Europe, teams earn their place in the league; a system the sports leagues operate differently. There is neither room for favoritism regardless of the caliber of the team. All the teams have equal playing ground. At the end of the season, the team with the worst performance is placed in the lower division, leaving their place for the sides that would be promoted from the lower league.

The reverse goes for the team in the leagues below. If they finish top place, they gain promotion. 

A relegated team will play the next season in a lower league much lesser than the one they participated in previously. A team that has been promoted to the top division and an elite league has to maintain its place, otherwise, they fall back low. 

This puts teams on their heels, demanding extra work. Teams who do not make the standard result are marked off, hence, they are brought to the lower division. 

How Relegation Works

In a league, the lowest-ranked team is demoted to the next lower-ranked league at the end of the season where they would compete while the team that emerged as the highest-ranked in the lower league is promoted to fill the space the relegated team previously occupied.

Unlike in the MLS where the closed league procedure is in place, a team that finished at the bottom of the league continues to participate in the league. Meanwhile, let’s use the English Premier League as a good specimen to analyze relegation in soccer.

Premier League Relegation

20 teams participate in the Premier League every season. One of the teams ends up winning the league title while the three lowest placed teams on the standings will lose their place in the league at the end of the season.

This is because the teams underperformed, lost the most matches, won very few matches, scored a few goals, and conceded lots of goals in the course of the season.

These three teams that finish lowest on the Premier League log are relegated at the end of the season and will play in the English Football League Championship for the following season. Relegation ensures that any team that can’t compete at the highest level is demoted to a league where they can meet their match. 

What Is the Relegation Zone?

The relegation zone determines what team is demoted by the end of the season. The number of teams that face relegation varies from league to league. The English Premier League, the Spanish La Liga, Italian Serie A, German Bundesliga, and French Ligue 1 have their relegation zones.

In the Premier League, the three bottom-placed teams on the log at the end of the season drop to the lower division. Find below, the breakdown of the number of teams that are relegated across some of the elite soccer leagues in the world.

  • Spanish LaLiga – 3 teams
  • German Bundesliga – 2 teams
  • Italian Serie A – 3 teams
  • Brasileirao – Brazil – 4 teams
  • Argentine Primera – 4 teams
  • Liga MX – Mexico – 1 team

Teams in the relegation zone are teams that have been found less fitting to stay in the league. They are placed in marked-out relegation spots. This zone is the section for the least performing teams on a leagues table, mainly for teams that will end up at the bottom positions by the end of the season. 

Advantages and Disadvantages of Relegation

Teams put in the effort to maintain their places. A significant number of leagues practice the relegation and promotion system to ensure that teams transcend to elite leagues on merit. 

The Benefits of Relegation in Soccer

Relegation motivates teams while they compete

The concept of relegation in soccer has an impact on the game at large. With its ranking system, teams have to be on top of their game to make the top ranks, thereby putting in work. This is not the same in the closed league system in America. 

It is rather a game for the fun of it than for the reward. Such teams have even better comebacks with improved gaming spirit after battling relegation. 

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For instance, if a team earns a low rank in a season, they look to improve in the next season when they come back. The close league system has a rather nonchalant impact on teams with no consequence following a bottom finish.

Relegation ensures that the league remains competitive until the end of the season

A team’s force may be extreme and as such, they may have the potential at winning. This doesn’t always come out as predicted because the competition gets intense. Teams work extra hard to avoid the threat of relegation. This often makes the game spectacular for viewers. 

A system of promotion and relegation enhances dynamism as new teams enter and leave the league every year

Dynamism is a feature that is stable in the game of soccer. Seasons bear different turnouts based on the competitiveness of the league. For instance, this season is always expected to be different from the coming season.  

Disadvantages of Relegation

Affects team finances

Relegation has a severe impact on a team’s finances as it results in the loss of high-profile players if they lose their place in the top league for a lower league. The best players want to compete in the best leagues. You won’t see a player like Cristiano Ronaldo staying put at Manchester United if they get relegated to the Championship.

One bad season could hurt a team

A team can be impressive for years in a league but could get relegated for just one bad season regardless of if it is a one-off or not. We’ve seen how some traditional teams beast in a league for decades, go through a major challenge, can’t keep up, and lose their place at the highest level due to the problems they face.

Schalke 04 in the German Bundesliga is a perfect example of such a scenario. They now play in the Bundesliga 2 after being relegated from the elite Bundesliga.

Other factors that can lead to relegation are poor coaching, player injuries, amongst others. There is also the challenge of rising from one relegation and not being able to return to the highest level for years.

Notwithstanding, relegation has a place in the future of soccer leagues across the world considering its impact on the game. largely. On the part of teams, it motivates; For fans of soccer, it entertains.