BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) – The Argentine Football Association wants to reorganize its first division, which will almost certainly guarantee a swift return to the first tier for relegated River Plate.
The AFA announced a plan late Monday to unify the country's first- and second-tiers into one league, divided into two regional divisions.
The proposal must be approved by AFA's executive committee, according to AFA spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo. A decision is expected on Oct. 18, he said.
The plan is expected to be enacted in time for the 2012-13 season, meaning that River Plate, which was relegated last month for the first time in its history, is likely to return to the top flight after just one season in the second division.
The new league would be made up of 38 teams and would do away with the Apertura and Clausura tournaments. As in much of Latin America, the season in Argentina is currently divided into two parts with a champion crowned for each.
The plan has been devised by AFA president Julio Grondona, who is also a senior vice president at FIFA.
The new set-up also has major political and financial implications, with presidential elections coming in October and President Cristina Fernandez the favorite to be re-elected.
''This change will imply, in effect, a new contract between the state and the AFA for televising games,'' Cherquis Bialo told reporters late Monday. ''A new championship supposes a new system of economic repayment.''
In 2009 the AFA tore up its contracts with TV rights holders and transferred the package to state-run TV, in a deal that offered all first division matches free to air.
The arrangement gave clubs a much-needed income boost and is a likely to be a vote winner for Fernandez if it is expanded.