River set for quick top flight return

Disgraced Argentine club River Plate could return to the top flight sooner than expected, with plans revealed to revamp Argentina’s first division.The Argentine Football Association (AFA) has announced it wants to unite the teams from the country’s top two divisions into one next year – combining all 20 from the top flight and most clubs from the second tier.

The teams are likely to be divided into regional groups, but the merger would mean the relegated giants River Plate would be back in the first division, after they dropped into Nacional B for the first time in their 110-year existence last month.

A decision on the new championship format needs to be agreed by the AFA’s executive committee, with that expected in October.

“The Argentine committee of the Argentine Football Association has decided with a majority vote – 22 in favour versus four abstentions and one absence – to look into a new tournament format project which would become valid starting in August of next year if the assembly so decides,” AFA spokesman Ernesto Cherquis Bialo said.

“It is basically the fusion of the Nacional B and the first division with relegation and the possibility that teams in the interior A could intervene with the first division.”

River will spend next season in the Nacional B division, and should they avoid finishing in the bottom two, a return to the top flight will be on the cards should the new format be voted in.