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What Is Relegation in Soccer

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Soccer, football, whatever you call it, is a seemingly simple yet complex game of athleticism. Now you might be thinking that that sounds a bit like an oxymoron, and you aren't wrong. The chances are that if you are currently reading this article, you are:

(1) just learning about soccer, or

(2) don't know that much about it but want to improve your understanding of the finer points of the game outside of the actual showy parts.

So, if you fall into one of these groups, then worry no longer, for you have come to just the right place. In this article, we are going to take some time to explain just what "relegation" means in soccer and how it works.

Understanding the Process

Relegation is one part of the process known as promotion and relegation. This process acts as the mechanism which decides which teams are placed and transferred across divisions. The placement of a team within a division is often determined based on their performance and wins during a particular sports event/season/tournament.

It is because of promotion and relegations that we are able to have "ranked" games, allowing 12 different soccer teams to face off in randomized pairs, moving up the ladder with each win and to face the winners of other matches until they are whittled down to the two last teams.

What Does Promotion Mean?

Now with that being said, you first need to understand what promotion means before we move on to tackling relegation. Promotion refers to the process whereby a team is moved higher up the rankings or ladder as they face off against and win or outperform other teams. In this sense, the meaning of the word is very similar to when you hear it being used around the workplace.

Promotion allows for the best performing teams to advance, sorting them within their category and allowing them to face off against each other — each other being the other teams that also outperformed the first team they were matched against. The best performing teams from lower divisions are thus moved up into higher divisions for the next season in which they will play. They are promoted.

Girl football team players crying, feeling bitterness of defeat

What Does Relegation Mean?

Right, now you know what promotion means, so let's move on to relegation. Simply put, relegation is the opposite of promotion. It refers to the process whereby the worst-performing teams and the teams that lost their match against another team or moved lower down the ladder. Relegation places the worst-performing teams from the higher divisions into their direct lower division in which they will remain and play in during their next season.

What Is the Benefit of Relegation and Promotion?

The main importance of the relegation and promotion system can be boiled down to three important points. The first is that it keeps the fans of the game interested. Ordinarily, not many fans care or focus on the performance of lower-ranking teams as all their focus is placed on which top team is going to win next. But because the relegation of a team during one season can affect their placement in the next season, this causes fans to care a bit more.

Especially if those fans are from the area/state/city of the team that is fighting next. This bleeds into the second point, which is that it encourages teams and clubs to put their all into every game they play as their performance will affect them in the future. This generally raises the importance of receiving proper training and causes clubs to ensure that their players receive the best training and resources available to them.

The last point, and arguably the most important if you think about it, is that it allows for not only more clubs to play against each other, but it also allows for lower-ranking or more unknown clubs to make a name for themselves. It keeps things from becoming a match of elites versus elites, placing more importance on performance and skill and less on societal popularity.

Are There Any Downsides to the System?

Yes, there are some significant negatives when it comes to your team being relegated. The main issue that clubs face is that being relegated often brings with it financial and unity instability. What we mean is that being placed down the rankings will lead to financial issues as sponsors or investors pull their support in favor of supporting a more lucrative club. This, as well as a hit to the club's prestige, can also lead to many players abandoning their club again in favor of trying to join a more successful and promising club.


And that is all you really need to know whenever you hear your mates or the commentators talking about the relegations and promotions of the latest season. Hopefully, this article was able to broaden your understanding of this addictive game!

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