Tiers – Primera A and Primera B.
Cup Competitions – None.
Other Competitions – None.
The current system of play in Colombia was introduced in 1999, though many systems have been used over the years (the 1996-97 season actually lasted 18 months due to the strange system used) . The current system is by no means popular with coaches, players or clubs and has received criticism for being unfair (America de Cali topped the league for four consecutive stages over two seasons yet failed to win a trophy on any occasion) and overly complex. Taking a closer look at the league suggests otherwise as it’s certainly no more complex than most other South American leagues.
So, Colombia is overly complex and no fun, right? Wrong. Finishing in the top-eight places guarantees you a shot at winning the title and if player development is your thing then you’ll certainly get the chance to bring youth talent to fruition. What’s more, relegation shouldn’t affect anyone except the woefully inept as both Primera A and B have just one relegation spot.
As with a number of other South American leagues, the Primera A season is split into two halves of seventeen games. At the end of each period the top eight teams are split into two groups of four where they play each other twice more (home and away). The winners of each of these groups then play each other in a two-legged final to decide the period champions. If the aggregate score is level after 90 minutes of the second leg the tie is settled by penalties (i.e. no extra-time or penalties). Curiously enough, that’s where it ends, there’s no play-off between the champions of the opening period against the champions of the closing period to determine an overall champion. Each season one club will suffer relegation to Primera B, this being the club with the worst overall record across the two periods.
Colombia follows the standard three points for a win and one for a draw model with any teams tied on points being separated by:
* Games won;
* Goal difference;
* Goals scored.
There are two transfer windows each season, the first running throughout January and February while the second begins on the second Tuesday of July and ends on the second Tuesday of August. One thing to bear in mind when buying players is that your squad as a whole must contain no more than four foreign players of which only three may be named in the match-day squad. Your match-day squad allows for the naming of seven substitutes (three may be called into action) and must contain at least one player under the age of 19 and at least two under the age of 21.
Unruly players will receive a one match ban for each red card (subject to disciplinary review) and every three yellow cards shown.
Unusually for South America, Colombia’s lower tier works in exactly the same way us the upper tier. The only difference being that a play-off between the winners of the opening and closing periods determines who is to be promoted. As with Primera A, the club with the worst record across the two periods is relegated.