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Swiss league changes may have wider significance


Changes in the structure of the Swiss leagues may have a broader significance for European football in the sense that they may be a harbinger of similar changes elsewhere.   In summary there will be no more playoffs between 1st and 2nd divisions; only 1 team relegated/promoted; reduction from 16 to 10 teams in Div 2 and the creation of a promotional division 3 to promote U21 teams.

In a period when there is concern about the possibility of closed leagues and how that would destroy the European model of sport, the Swiss football authorities are slowly moving in that direction.  The proposed changes (which still have to be approved by the Swiss FA in May) would reduce the number of overall teams competing at the top two levels and limit the 'relegation risk' to fewer teams (the bottom team goes down, second to last is safe from 2012-13) from the elite. 
The same applies to those in Div2, one team will go up automatically.  This would remove the playoffs option for the 2nd placed team in Div2 who currently have the possibility to go up after a playoff with the second to last team from Div1.  The result is that this would further limit the risk for top division teams as only the bottom team will be concerned by relegation, instead of two (one automatic and one threatened by playoffs).
This would be a further change from the old qualifying groups of the 1990s when, in theory, the bottom four teams of the top division (12 teams at the time) could all be relegated and the top four from Div2 could go up.  So, first to go was the larger qualifying for a smaller top division, but now the new plans would restrict even further the top division. 
There is a subtext of 'youth development' since they will promote U21 teams in the new 3rd division.  But ultimately, this seems to restrict the 'sporting market' since fewer clubs can go up or down.  It looks suspiciously more and more like a closed league, but you could not get away with calling it that of course!  
It would be interesting one day for someone to challenge the 'closing up' of leagues as itself anti-competitive, although, of course, it is common in the United States  Indeed, it could be viewed by those who wish to enter the market (read: division or league) that they are being forced out by a sort of monopolistic pressure exerted by top clubs who want to limit access.
Underlying all this is no doubt the financial cost of relegation for top clubs which would be an even bigger factor in leagues other than the Swiss one.