Swiss Super League to return on June 19 as expansion emphatically ruled out

The IAEH survey shows that it will be a long road back to full stadiums (FABRICE COFFRINI/AFP via Getty Images)

A proposal to expand Switzerland’s Super League to 12 teams has been dismissed as the league prepares to resume this season’s campaign on June 19 following the suspension imposed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

At an extraordinary Swiss Football League (SFL) general assembly meeting in Bern today (Friday), the proposal of FC Lausanne Sport to expand the league to a dozen teams was rejected by 14 votes to five. There was one abstention.

At the same meeting, clubs voted to return to action following a three-month pause. A blitz of weekend and midweek matches will allow the league to finish its 2019-20 campaign on August 2. There were 17 votes in favour of returning and just two votes against (and one abstention).

The rejection of the expanded league format will now allow the Super League to proceed with its invitation to tender for broadcast and sponsorship rights from the 2021-22 season onward. Last month, the proposal to expand the league failed to secure the necessary two-thirds majority, with 10 clubs in favour and 10 against.

Pay-television broadcaster Teleclub holds live rights to all Super League matches from 2017-18 to 2020-21 in a deal worth just over CHF30m (€28.1m/$31.2m) per year that also includes rights to the second-tier Challenge League. Teleclub also sublicences non-exclusive rights to public-service broadcaster SRG SSR, which shows 36 Sunday matches per season from the top tier.

At the time of the last rights auction in 2016, the SFL also sealed a four-year international rights deal with the Lagardère Sports (now Sportfive) agency and a four-year sponsorship rights sales contract with the InfrontRingier agency. The sale of the domestic and international broadcast and sponsorship rights brought in a total of CHF40m per year.

Had the expansion been approved, the Super League would have adopted a similar model to the 12-team Scottish Premiership, which involves a split after 33 match days after each team has played each other three times. After the split, teams are divided into a top six and bottom six and then play an additional five matches in their respective selection to determine the league winners, European qualification and relegation.

The vote means that the Super League’s existing model will remain, with clubs playing each other four times a season to create a total of 36 league fixtures each.

An expansion to 12 teams was considered by the SFL in 2017 but failed to receive the necessary approval. The Dutch consultancy Hypercube was mandated then to review the Swiss league structure and, following a feasibility study, a 12-team league with a split after 22 matches was proposed. The reintroduction of promotion and relegation play-offs was also proposed at the time, but ultimately not implemented.