Argentina scraps merger plans

The controversial plan to unite Argentina’s first and second divisions into a 38-team national championship from next year has been scrapped.”The AFA resolved tonight (Monday) to suspend consideration of the proposal,” the sport’s national governing body said in a statement on its official website, while not ruling out looking at it again at a later date.

Players, coaches, fans, club directors and media slammed the idea, made public last week, which would have been introduced in the 2012-13 season.

Fans called for a demonstration at AFA headquarters in Buenos Aires.

The plan to include the 20 first-division sides and 18 from the second-tier Nacional B was regarded by many as a means of helping relegated giants River Plate return to the top flight as quickly as possible, while also ensuring other big teams did not risk the drop.

Reports also suggested it might have been a plan for the government, which controls broadcasting of first-division matches, to expand into the Nacional B, which is televised by a private channel.

The Apertura championship, first of two in the Argentine first division season, kicks off this weekend.

The Nacional B is a single championship, with River set to compete in it for the first time after being relegated in June.