Fourth-Place Playoff Plans for Premiership

Tuesday, 16 February 2010 ·

So Game 39 was a non-starter, what else can the bureaucrats at Premiership HQ come up with to generate even more money? Eureka! Someone cried, “Let’s have a play-off for fourth-place.”  Is this a good idea?  Really?
There have been many blogs and articles written of late supporting this idea providing a variety of reasoning why it should be at the very least considered, with one of the strongest being that it might break the monopoly of the Big-Four on the Champions League places.  From the need to inject some excitement at the end of the season (what? the title race isn't exciting?) to the desire to break the stranglehold of the Big-Four.  But the need for change has to be carefully considered before drastic action should be taken.  Also, just because there are four teams that vie for the top four places every year, is this league not exciting?
Let's look at the example of The Championship.  After a long, hard gruelling season, a team finishes third only to have to engage in further battles against teams that have not proven themselves good enough over the course of a season as they fight for a place in The Premiership.  Think of it as the last-chance-saloon (or father Christmas) for those who have failed to consistently perform.  The general idea behind the play-offs is that it provides an additional incentive towards the end of the season to keep interest alive for football fans that would otherwise (supposedly) lost interest if their teams did not have anything to play for.  This may well work for the Championship and lower leagues but to have this kind of competition in what is considered to be the most elite league in the world has the potential to devalue not only the Premier League itself, but also the Champions League.
Like-it-or-not, the teams that get into the Champions League deserve to be there because they have consistently performed better than the teams below them in the league.  Whilst it may be argued that the level of money being thrown at the Big-Four because they are constantly in the Champions League is providing them with greater resources with which to make that an almost-certainty every year, should we be punishing them simply because they are successful?  
In the one season for a long time when there is genuine competition at the top, the Premier League big-wigs decide to come up with a plan that has only worked for lower league sides.  Do any of the top European sides have this? Would they consider it?  The Champions League is a reward for a team that has worked hard to get itself into a position to test itself against Europe's best.  It is not a competition to be taken lightly.
I understand that there is a great need for change but that change should not come at the expense of quality or the very ethos of the world's most cherished sport.

Graham Matheson


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Written and edited by Graham Matheson, a Liverpool and Deportivo La Coruna fan.
Omar Malick, an Arsenal fan and season-ticket holder since being brainwashed as a child by his equally deluded father. Omar writes on all the unsavoury aspects of a game with all the moral equilibrium of an arms dealer at an arms fair.
Tom Parmiter, the resident expert on all things Championship

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