How Relegation In Professional Football Could Work

-John Turner

As usual from your boy Johnny… more fan fiction football talk!!! Today we will attempt at to convince all you football fans that relegation is indeed not only possible, but a great idea at the professional football level. We will also be exploring how other leagues get it done and who we believe would participate in the structure we put forth. Here at A Football World we believe in the imagination. We believe that anything(almost anything) is possible. And I personally believe with the right people overseeing things, when preparation collides with desire at the point of opportunity… shit gets done. Some of you out there might be asking right now, “what the hell is this idiot talking about, and what the hell is this relegation nonsense” and if you are, great!!! It’s an excellent question. So I’m going to break all that down and more for you today… ready go!!!

What is relegation?

Relegation in sports in when teams in different tiered leagues move up or down to different tiers based on their performance at the end of the season. Let’s say you have three or four leagues of 32 or so teams each. Each of the four leagues would represent a tier in the order they are ranked competitively. At the end of each league’s season the top two or so teams in each league can have the opportunity to move up a tier, and the bottom teams move down. To begin this system you would have to establish which leagues are in fact ranked higher than one another. In order to join the system leagues would have to agree to do business and be part of a tiered revenue and pay structure. The higher the tier, the higher the salaries and revenue sharing percentages, and so forth all the way down. Each tier has to have a hard cap with a little acceptation for relegation in the event a team gets dropped down. Once a team moves up or down they are automatically subjected to the rules of the tier they are in.

What leagues use a tiered system?

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The English Premier League(EPL) uses this model with English League Division One(EFL) being the tier below them. For those that don’t know, some EPL teams are every bit of and in some cases worth more than NFL teams. So they got that going for them, which is nice. Liga MX also utilizes relegation. Each season one team moves down to and one team moves up from Ascenso MX. Because Liga MX uses the system I believe Major League Soccer(MLS) will not be far behind considering the two leagues are already at the begging stages of cross league play as well as cross league ownership. Also, the MLS is the top tier professional soccer league in the US accompanied by tiers II and III of the United Soccer League(USL). There are several other examples of relegation being used in various sports around the world including even Esports, but I just wanted to show a couple examples out there.

Has relegation ever been used in America?


Kind of. The NCAA has seen teams not only change conferences over the years, but teams have changed division levels as well. Just last offseason some big ticket teams in the BIG12 in Oklahoma and Texas decided they would be joining the SEC. BIG12 now down their heaviest hitters, put out some feelers and wouldn’t you know, Cincinnati, BYU, UCF, and Houston said they would be willing to jump up to the Power 5. SEC is, in a way the tier I conference of the Tier I Group in Division I FBS football. It would be hard to find someone that would argue the Group of 5 is better than Power 5. Then of course we have the FCS(DIA). James Madison University and Jacksonville State will be joining the group of 5 from the FCS, and we could see a school like UMass or UConn drop down. There’s also been movement in DII and DIII. I won’t even get into levels like NAIA and JUCO, let alone USports right now, but they’re out there.


Each Division has a certain criteria they require of any team that wants to join must meet. Each Conference in each Division may or may not have specific requirements as well. However, with all that Name Image and Likeness(NIL), the Transfer Portal, and the potential for athletes to be considered employees soon, I have a sneaky suspicion we may see some major movement, and changes coming down the pike very, very soon. We could very well be seeing the foundation of several, if not all the Divisions taking new shape. That, and the entity that is the NCAA disappearing altogether, or becoming an entirely different variety of governing body as we know it. Stop and think for a second if a team couldn’t tank for a top pick because if they keep losing they’d get bumped out of that league, and their pick would go to the lowest incoming relegated team. Naturally, as usual most will likely tell me how way off base I am and that’s ok, I don’t work for them. However, for those that like this kind of speculation and fantasy, this league model is for you.

The tiers

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If we’re going to have four tiers of professional football I’m going to start with the highest tier. I’ve identified them based on a combination of revenue, competitiveness, and appeal. 32 college football programs that I think would give serious thought to not only leaving the NCAA, but joining a tiered professional football league where they are immediately placed at the top tier. These teams make more money than any spring league teams could ever hope to make right now. Its actually pretty ridiculous. Here’s a look at last year’s top 25 numbers. As you can see there’s only five teams on the list that aren’t found in this league. Not to say this tier couldn’t be bigger or teams swapped out for each other, but I’m really just trying to give you an idea of what it COULD look like. Also just to be clear, I wouldn’t rule out another set of 32 to leave the NCAA and become Tier II. For now I’m just going with the cream. If you’re wondering why the NFL isn’t the top tier here, its because I don’t think the NFL would ever do business with a model like this. They are the elite league so they don’t have to do business with anyone. This is strictly for the lower than NFL leagues. Also keep in mind the level of competition and finances would be so lopsided, relegation doesn’t even make sense with the NFL.

Tier IAlabamaOregonOklahomaMiami
AuburnUSCOklahoma StateFlorida
Ole MissUCLANebraskaFlorida State
Mississippi StateBYUWisconsinClemson
Georgia Texas A&MNotre DameOhio State
LSUTexasNorthwesternPenn State
North CarolinaHoustonWest VirginiaCincinnati
The Wrap

A combination of XFL, USFL, and CFL teams. Look, these leagues have the same level of talent, and the same rate of pay. Other than names, logos, and locations, all three of these leagues are the same outside of a few different rules. Anyone that tries to pretend that any of these leagues are any better than the other is kidding themselves. They can all remain as separate leagues with a contractual agreement, and a cross promotion along with competition. Or they can go full blown merger for all I care. More teams working together is simply better not only for the game, but for themselves individually. I would throw in a universal draft, free agency, and playoff, but thats just me. If the leagues opt to remain separate business entities, have home teams play by their leagues’ rules for that game. It’s not that complicated. The big picture is the revenue sharing. Smart money knows that working together is way more valuable than working alone, no matter how strongly folks feel otherwise.

Tier IIEdmonton ElksSeattle DragonsOklahoma OutlawsDallas RenegadesSan Antonio GunslingersMichigan PanthersJacksonville BullsBaltimore HitmenNew York Guardians
Winnipeg BlueBombersBC LionsHouston RoughnecksMemphis ShowboatsLA WildcatsChicago EnforcersOrlando RagePittsburgh MaulersNew Jersey Generals
Saskatchewan RoughridersOakland InvadersSt Louis BattlehawksBirmingham StallionsSan Diego BoltsToronto ArgonautsNew Orleans BreakersDC DefendersMontreal Alouettes 
Calgary StampedersLas Vegas OutlawsDenver GoldHouston GamblersMexico City DemonsHamilton TigerCatsTampa Bay BanditsPhiladelphia StarsOttawa Redblacks

A mixture of EFL(Euro), LFA(Mexico), X League(Japan), GFL(Germany), and SNFA(Brazil) teams. These, outside of a small handful of other places play the highest level of football on the planet. You can add limitless teams and or leagues to this tier. This is basically the FCS of pro football, if tier I is the Power 5, and tier II is the Group of 5. Each of these leagues can organize as many cross league games as they like, and have separate or universal playoffs. Obviously the pay structure is very low currently if anything at all, so to help this tier grow, like the other two tiers, a revenue sharing system must be established and maintained. At the moment some of these leagues pay certain players somewhere between $300 to $1000 a week, and that’s not for every player. Some or most actually play for the love of the game. However to help the game grow in these regions a revenue sharing system in place would help attract more local talent to be willing to tryout, and gain interest in the sport. It would also allow these international teams wiggle room to get a small handful of American, Canadian, or elsewhere talent they wouldn’t normally be able to afford, thus improving the level of play immediately. Another thing it would do is potentially provide opportunity for coaches that can’t find work in the upper tiers. At minimum the pay scale could resemble that of the Arena Football League, plus some stipends.

Tier IIIBerlin ThunderSatillo DinosFujitsu FrontiersBerlin RebelsRio Branco Cabritos
Leipzig KingsMonterrey FunidoresIBM Big BlueNew Yorker LionsDesportiva Piratas FA
Frankfurt GalaxyTijuana GalgosAll Mitsubishi LionsCologne CrocodilesVipers Army
Stuttgart SurgeQueretaro Gallos NegrosNojima SagamiharaDresden MonarchsCuritiba Brown Spiders
Barcelona DragonsIztacalco MixicasObic SeagullsKiel Baltic HurricanesManaus Cavaliers
Istanbul RamsNaucalpan de Juarez RaptorsTokyo Gas CreatersPotsdam RoyalsUFPR Legends
Hamburg Sea DevilsZapopan ReyesPanasonic ImpulseAllgäu CometsFoz Black Sharks
Panthers WroclawElecom Kobe FiniesFrankfurt UniverseItapema White Sharks
Raiders TrolAsahi Beer Silver StarMarburg MercenariesSanta Maria Soldiers
Vienna VikingsMeiji Yasuda PentaOcean PiratesMunich CowboysPorto Alegre Pumpkins
Cologne CenturionsFuji Xerox Minerva AFCRavensburg RazorbacksSinop Coyotes
Rhein FireKeishichou EaglesSaarland HurricanesJacarés do Pantanal
Deers Football ClubSchwäbisch Hall UnicornsCampo Grande Cobras
Dentsu Club CaterpillarsStuttgart ScorpionsBrasilia Alligators
Bullseyes-TokyoLeões de Judá
Asaka BullsVila Nova Tigres
Asahi Soft Drink Challengers
As One Black Eagles
Nagoya Cyclones
Me-Life Fukuoka Suns

If a league like this came together it would no doubt attract more colleges to bail on the NCAA. It would also attract minority owners around the world, including America and Canada, to be interested in launching an expansion team, and or an entire league altogether. I truly believe this is what Dwayne Johnson actually has in mind, and did when he decided to buy the XFL in the first place. He was simply thinking globally, and acting locally. Can you imagine popping on the TV to see Alabama play the Houston Roughnecks one day? I know I can. The NFL would actually love this because it offers a ton more free football training that they don’t have to pay for. Obviously they are just going to cherry pick the best players as they seem fit anyways, assuming they don’t put themselves out of business doing something dramatically stupid. As always, tell me in the comment section how brain dead I must be to even dream of such a ridiculous concept. I can take it. Cheers!!!

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Feature photo: LA Times

John Turner

I like Food, Family, TV and Movies, Talking Sports, and Hall and Oates