The Apertura is held in the first half of the calendar year in Chile, Colombia, Haiti and Paraguay while it is held in the second half of the calendar year in Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama and Uruguay and Venezuela.
In most leagues, each tournament constitutes a national championship in itself. On the other hand, in the leagues of Nicaragua, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela, the winners of the Apertura and Clausura play each other in a playoff for the season title, or there is a final stage where teams qualify based on placements in the Apertura and Clausura. Thus, two championship titles are awarded per year in the first group of leagues, and only one in the second. In Mexico, for instance, the winners of each tournament play each other at the beginning of the following season for another title, but this is a rather minor season curtain-raiser, akin to national Super Cups in European leagues. Some Apertura and Clausura tournaments also have second stages to decide the winner.
In leagues with 12 or fewer teams, each Apertura and Clausura has a double round-robin format, as a means to fill in the gaps caused by the lack of elimination cup competitions as in most European countries. In leagues with 16 or more teams, each tournament has a single round-robin format.
Relegations, if any, are done on an aggregate basis; usually the combined table for both tournaments determine relegation placements. In some leagues, the average points over the previous two or three seasons are used to determine relegation.
Peru has abolished its Apertura and Clausura format after the 2008 season and adopted new formats. Ecuador used it only in 2005. Argentine Football Association president Julio Grondona proposed in December 2008 the return to a single championship per season format, but there are no plans currently for such a format change in the near future.
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