Personally, I love the story of the Roosters being the New England Patriots / Alabama Crimson Tide of Finland. But how does this effect the rest of the teams in Finland? Besides the Roosters, most of the football teams in Finland have had dramatically changing organizations over the last 8-10 years. Teams like the Seinäjoki Crocodiles, Turku Trojans, Vantaa Taft, and Helsinki 69ers have seen their programs compete for Championships, then just as quickly be relegated out of the Maple League.
There are multiple reasons for this wide range of success and failure for some of the teams in Finland. I won’t pretend to be able to solve any of those issues, but I will take a crack at providing an idea/plan for one of the issues involved.
SAJL LEAGUE RESTRUCTURE
There are approximately 40 men’s club teams in Finland divided into 5 divisions. Using quick math, you would need around 1200 players to average 30 players on each of these teams. Finland has approximately 1400 total players including more than 20 additional women’s & youth teams. If the numbers confuse you, try this: TOO MANY TEAMS, NOT ENOUGH PLAYERS.
STEP 1: TEAM REDUCTION
40 teams is unsustainable because of the ever-changing rosters in Finland. Let’s reduce that number to 20. This reduction should increase roster size for teams, which has value both monetarily and in terms of competition. Financially, more players per team will increase team funds while allowing the teams to actually lower player fees. From a competition standpoint, more players per team will allow these teams to have competition for playing time (cream rises to the top), and give them enough players to actually compete in practice. Recently, there has been a huge problem of teams not having enough players to fully practice, including some top Maple League teams.
STEP 2: RESTRUCTURED LEAGUES
Finland is not heavily populated (6 million), so why have so many leagues? Someone can probably explain the reasoning, but I will still consider it a ridiculous concept. In my plan there will ONLY be two leagues. The Maple League will consist of 12 teams, and Division 1 will have 6 teams (with the possibility of 8 eventually). Any other “teams” will not be recognized, and their players will be available to play for one of the two leagues.
I thought about having a more in depth explanation about the reasoning behind my restructure plan, but I’ll save that for the podcast. This plan is simple, but well thought out. If you have any constructive criticism or suggestions of the plan, you know where to find me.
*Conference Alignment is based on regional locations
- Conference opponents play each other twice, 4 games
- Each team plays 2 opponents from other conferences on a yearly rotating schedule, 6 games
- 10 Total Regular Season Games
- Conference winners will receive automatic playoff berths, 4 teams
- Wildcard teams are decided by best remaining teams, 2 teams
- Top 2 overall teams will have a first round bye
- Division Record, head-to-head, point differential, then a coin flip will determine seeding in case of tied record
- Wildcard Round will have match the #6 seed at #3 seed and #5 seed at #4 seed
- Semi-finals will be winners of the wildcard at #1 and #2 seeds. The #1 seed will play against the highest remaining seed, and the #2 seed will play against the lowest remaining seed
- The Championship (Maple Bowl) will be held two weeks after the semi-finals at a neutral site. The Championship location would rotate with every team hosting a scheduled Maple Bowl in their city.
*All other teams in Finland can only play games for one of these 18 teams! (Farm System)
- Teams play all opponents twice (home/away), 10 games
- 10 Total Regular Season Games
- The top 4 teams will make the playoffs
- head-to-head, point differential, then a coin flip will determine seeding in case of tied record
- Semi-Finals will match the #4 seed at the #1 seed, and the #3 seed at the #2 seed.
- Week 9 of Maple League
- The Final will be held two weeks after the semi-finals at a neutral site. The Championship location would rotate with every team hosting in their city.
- In terms of scheduling, this game would be played during the first round of the Maple League Playoffs
- @ D1 Champion
- Bye Week of Maple Bowl
- Division 1 Champion plays against the team with the worst record in a specific region to replace that team in the Maple League (this keeps conferences regionally structured). Teams will play using Maple League import rules.
- This game should be played during the bye week leading up to the Maple Bowl.
- This game will be hosted by the Division 1 Champion
Regions (D1 Champion plays worst team in corresponding Conference)
- Conference A – Vantaa Taft
- Conference B – Jyvaskyla Jaguars, Mikkeli Bouncers
- Conference C – Turku Trojans
- Conference D – Oulu Northern Lights, Pori Bears