Thursday, June 6, 2019

How changes to domestic cups will affect Valencia

There are some major changes coming up in domestic cups, with more confirmed and proposed for Europe. Here I want to look at how the changes to domestic cups will affect us.


The old format which has been used for about 15 years was seen as boring, so the Spanish Football Federation decided to make some changes, inspired by the German and English domestic cups. The number of teams has been expanded slightly, from 83 to 126. For the first time since the early 1980s, teams from the Regional Preferente, the fifth level of Spanish football, will gain entry.

The other big changes are that only the four clubs playing the Super Cup will start in the last 32. The other La Liga clubs will start two rounds earlier. Instead of two-legged games, as we've seen up to now, all ties, except the semi-finals, will now be one game only. No replays, just extra time and penalties if needed. Games will be played at the ground of the team that is in a lower division.

If two teams from the same division are drawn against each other, the first team drawn will have home advantage. After preliminary rounds reduce the Regional Preferente teams down to 10, the Regional Preferente and Tercera division teams, along with 4 Segunda B teams, will be drawn at home to the La Liga teams. This round will be regionalised, though how regional we will have to wait and see.

Effects for Valencia are
  • Fewer games. Winning the cup next year would only require playing 6 games rather than 9. If we are not in the Super Cup, it's still 8 games instead of 9. 
  • Shorter first round trips. Valencia have headed to Vigo in the first round in recent times. If we're not in the super cup, we shouldn't have so far to travel.
  • Loss of revenue. Fewer cup games at Mestalla, as lower league teams get home advantage.
  • The cup gets a bit more open. In the past, Barcelona and Real Madrid could lose their first leg against La Liga opposition and win the return: that happened this season with Barcelona losing 0-2 at Sevilla but battering them at Camp Nou. I think it's more likely that clubs outside the big two can win now.
  • Less chance to blood young players. The two-legged format suited La Liga clubs well. We could experiment with the team and include some promising reserve team players in the starting line-up in the first leg, safe in the knowledge that, if we screwed up and lost, we could put out a stronger line-up in the second leg at Mestalla and overturn the loss. That's exactly what happened this season against Gijon. This allowed us to try out players like Gaya, Kang-In and Alcacer in the past. Now, we won't be able to gamble too much with a weaker squad in the first leg.
Overall, the changes are better for the neutral, but mixed for us, especially from the development point of view.


Similar to the Copa del Rey, the Super Cup expands next season to four teams. Instead of the league champions against the cup winners (or runners-up if a team won the double) over two legs it will be the cup finalists and the two highest placed teams in La Liga playing single leg games outside Spain. Saudi Arabia is the likely venue for this. Valencia were very angry about this, arguing that forcing us to play a semi-final, when we had qualified by right for the final, was unfair. The club said it supported the expansion for future seasons, but not for next. The changes have gone ahead anyway. Valencia made noises about legal action but this hasn't happened.

The draw has already been made, Valencia will face Atletico Madrid on 8 January, with Barcelona - Real Madrid the following day and the final on 12 January. There are conflicting stories about the division of revenue. Some sources suggested we would get 1 million, Atletico 2m and the big two 6m each, which sounded blatantly unfair. Later, reported that the losing semi-finalists will get 800,000 each, the runner-up 2m and the winner 2.8m. 

Effects for Valencia

  • More chance of qualifying. 4th in La Liga will probably be there about a third of the time.
  • More money. Foreign cities will pay more to host it.
  • The neutral games often won't be neutral. Barcelona and Real Madrid have far more international fans than we do. Barcelona vs Valencia played in Miami, for example, would be virtually the same as Barcelona playing at home.
  • Less disadvantage in La Liga when playing the Super Cup. Under the old format, we would have had 2 extra games next season while other La Liga clubs have a nice break. This time, we'll be playing at the same time that they play Copa del Rey games. 
So, apart from next season, and assuming that the money will be performance based, these changes are better for us.

In a future post, I'll look at how changes to European competitions could affect us.