Soccer-New franchise allows Queretaro to stay in Mexican elite

MEXICO CITY, July 19 (Reuters) – Queretaro were relegated from the Mexican first division two months ago and closed down as a club but thanks to a franchising quirk will play again in the top flight when the season starts this weekend.

Entrepreneur Amado Yanez bought up the franchise of struggling Chiapas, nicknamed Jaguars, in the south of Mexico and moved the team to the central city.

Queretaro, whose team went by the nickname White Roosters, have a strong football pedigree that Yanez is hoping to capitalise on.

Two other teams have also changed names and location – promoted La Pieded and San Luis.

San Luis were based in Potosi, north of Queretaro, but have moved to Tuxtla Gutierrez in Chiapas, where they will carry the name of that region although they bear no relation to the departed Jaguars.

La Piedad’s team have moved across Mexico from Michoacan state in the west to the gulf port city of Veracruz in the east.

“There is no infrastructure and many things are lacking (at La Piedad) to have a first division team,” said team owner Fidel Kuri.

“(Veracruz) governor Javier Duarte made it possible for me to take the franchise which is why Veracruz now has a first division team.”

Mexican league president Decio de Maria told reporters that the changes “could be (seen as) a lack of respect while for others it is a commitment to provide first division football at new venues.

“Evidently the league, the fans and the teams are affected but (such) decisions have to be taken.”

Champions America and arch-rivals Guadalajara, who both have at least four players on international duty with Mexico at the CONCACAF Gold Cup in the United States, have been allowed to postpone their opening matches.

“We need to have our full squad because I think we would be giving too much of an advantage playing with the squad I have now,” said Guadalajara coach Benjamin Galindo.

“It is our obligation to qualify for the title playoffs because this is a big club I’m aiming to be among the eight (quarter-finalists) and then think of the title.”

Guadalajara, known as Chivas, have been in poor form for the past few seasons and failed to reach the Clausura championship playoffs in April. The top eight teams after the 17-match league phase go into the knockout rounds. (Reporting by Carlos Calvo; writing by Rex Gowar in London, editing by Alan Baldwin)

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