The Finnish hockey pyramid

The top level is SM Liiga, where the best players play for the Finnish Championship. You can read our prejudiced opinions about the SM Liiga clubs in the ‘Introduction to SM Liiga’ tag, if you like. As to format, well the Wikipedia entry on SM Liiga is good, but this is all to change next year. The number of games will increase from 56 to 58, and there will be one fewer game against the ‘designated’ clubs.

Unlike in football”s Veikkausliiga, there is no automatic relegation. There will also be a play-off involving the bottom clubs, with the 11th playing the 14th placed team and the 12th playing the 13th. The losers will play each other, and then the losers of that game will then play the winners of Mestis. If the Mestis team wins they will have the opportunity to buy a share in SM Liiga (ie get promoted) for an as yet undetermined price. This is a good analysis of the changes.

Below SM Liiga is Mestis, then Suomi Sarja, then the regionalised leagues. Finland has 52,000 registered hockey players, and they all play for someone….


2 Responses to The Finnish hockey pyramid

  1. Antonio says:

    A friend of mine from Finland who formerly played on a team in the Suomi-Sarja league is living in the US for a time and wants to play organised hockey here. For whatever reason, it seems important to some people to know how to classify Suomi-Sarja, either as a “professional” or as an “amateur” league. My question is: how is the Suomi-Sarja viewed in Finland specifically and in Europe more generally, as a professional or as an amateur league? Many thanks in advance for enlightenment in this regard.

    • muukalainen says:

      Hi Antonio,

      Thanks for the question, I would describe it as semi-professional. In terms of “professional” meaning something like “getting paid enough to pay for one’s living” then I suspect that very few, if any, of the players come into that category. On the other hand no-one plays at this level (the third tier in Finland) just as a hobby. Assuming no trans-Atlantic differences of interpretation of “professional” versus “amateur” then you should lean more towards the former.

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