Swiss soccer clubs to vote on best-of-3 league title playoff

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss soccer clubs will soon vote on whether to create a best-of-three playoff series between the league’s top two teams to decide the title starting in the 2023-24 season, organizers said Friday.

The Swiss league’s plan for an American-style “Championship Finals” is unusual in European soccer. The league is looking for change after a series of runaway title winners and no genuine duel for the trophy over the past nine seasons.

Clubs will vote on different aspects of the overall proposal, including a separate election on the playoff finals idea, at a meeting on May 20, the league said.

Because each game in the series would need to have a winner, any of the three games level after 90 minutes would go to extra time and then a penalty shootout if required.

The playoff finals idea is central to the league’s plan for expanding the top division to 12 teams in the season after next. The Swiss league currently has 10 teams playing each other home and away twice for a 36-game season.

Zurich has won the title this season with four matches left. Zurich ended a four-year title run by Young Boys, and Basel won the eight previous championships.

The new proposal would have a first phase of 12 teams playing each other home and away for a total of 22 games. The top six and bottom six in those standings would split into a “Championship Group” and “Qualification Group” — a common format now in many smaller European leagues — playing a further 10 games each to complete a 32-game standings.

The top two teams in the championship group could then meet in the playoff series with the leader hosting the first and third games.

A vote is also proposed on having the next eight teams in the final standings enter a “Europe Playoffs” bracket to decide who enters UEFA competitions.

The last-place team would be directly relegated and the 11th-place team would enter a relegation playoff against the runner-up in the 10-team second division.

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