At the end of the 2021 season SiiPe emerged victorious against Hamina and went on to retain their place in Superpesis in dramatic fashion, beating promotion hopefuls Ouluun Lippo in 5 games. A few weeks later SiiPe announced that despite their success, the club was not financially able to keep its place in Superpesis and therefore had to withdraw. Hamina on the other hand seems to be more than financially capable of being in Superpesis, as the club announced on 17th January 2022 that they had made only a small financial loss on the season despite relegation, Covid and cancelled home games due to self-isolation.
Lippo’s shot at Superpesis had fallen short and (like SiiPe and Hamina) saw drastic cuts to players and changes for staff. This kind of instability can cause chaos when trying to manage a long term strategy for a club and allocate money for projects and investments. So I pose the question: Is promotion and relegation good for the sport? Especially when it can be challenging enough to secure a team’s finances as we have seen in PattU and JymyJussit recently.
It cannot be denied that the thrill of promotion and all the benefits that come with it are rooted in the long history of the game; so too are the despair and pain felt on relegation. Whilst most teams are unlikely to be challenging for the championship each year, the threat of relegation means that all teams have something to play for and that each game has a purpose.
Relegation and promotion is a familiar concept in European team sports, where most sporting competitions have some element of promotion and relegation. In the USA however this concept is not part of major sports leagues and the teams enjoy relative security knowing that if the they don’t play well in a season that there is always next year to put things right. The American model is however very different to European leagues and comparing Major League Baseball clubs to Pesis clubs is completely misleading.
The question that people really need to ask themselves is: where do I want to see the sport in the future?
It is clear that there are clubs in pesis that can financially sustain themselves at a top level but they are not in Superpesis; likewise there are clubs that are in Superpesis that seem to struggle every year to keep going financially. So what can be done? Can some of the pressure be taken away? Would this take away from some of the excitement of the game?
Well the answer to these questions really depends on what people want to achieve with the sport and what they want the future to look like. Superpesis creates a very exciting environment for fans, where every team is playing for some prize or reason until the very end. This does mean however that there can be great financial instability for clubs, who may have to take drastic measures if they are unexpectedly relegated. Likewise, a team that is promoted before they are ready will likely over-stretch themselves and create problems in trying to be competitive the following year. In England Rugby League used a promotion and relegation system where between 0 and 4 teams could be promoted or relegated each year. This system had significant and unsustainable financial problems in a sport that (like Pesis) has a mix of professionals, volunteers and small and large clubs. In the end Rugby League had to change the system because it created chaos in trying to look after big clubs and small clubs alike.
One solution to this is to make promotion and relegation more consistent – one team is promoted and one team is relegated. Whilst this would take away some of the magic and excitement from the season, there would be a degree of stability that meant that teams could plan for the future in a more meaningful way. Another solution would be to pause promotion and relegation until there was more financial stability in the leagues; this happened in Scottish football in the 1990s and seemed to help. In Pesis there too has been occasions where relegation was
The question that people really need to ask themselves is: where do I want to see the sport in the future? If you want to see teams that are financially stable, the current system will not help that. If you want to see the league remain exciting, but clubs may struggle financially, then things should probably stay the same.