The Guardian has reported plans for the Premier League to create a play off system to determine who wins the fourth Champions League spot.
The plan is for the teams position between fourth and seventh place will take part in a play off, similar to the Football League promotion play offs, that are clearly very unfair, but are undoubtedly exciting.
Apparently the idea was raised at a Premier League meeting on the 4th February and was enthusiastically supported by every club, apart that is, from Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United (ie. the teams that are currently able to qualify for the Champions League by that old-fashioned virtue of being better at football than everyone else).
The idea is to make the Premier League more competitive, with a greater variety of teams qualifying for the Champions League. You have to say that the timing of this move is strange, in a season when fourth spot is legitimately being challenged for by four teams.
Even if Liverpool finish fourth this season, it is pretty obvious that Manchester City will break up the top four monopoly eventually. With Manchester United and Liverpool not boasting the same financial power that they once did, Arsenal unwilling to spend under Arsene and Chelsea’s team all getting old at the same time, there is plenty to suggest that a changing of the guard is already underfoot.
A league doesn’t need play offs. Every team has played 38 games, which pretty conclusively determine which teams are ranked in which positions. It might be boring that the same old four teams normally qualify for the Champions League, but petty envy is no reason to turn the Premier League into a freak show.
Even though it would help Spurs, I’m against this idea. The play offs would clearly be a huge commercial hit (hey, I’m against the notion, but I’d be first in the queue to watch it) and after a couple of seasons, they’d be looking to expand things.
Why not make a relegation place determined on play offs? Then why don’t the third and second placed clubs play off to determine which team meets the first placed team in the Premier League play off final? They could even make the games only available on pay-per-view and host the games abroad.
Does that sound like the league football that we all grew up loving? It sounds like another nail in the coffin to me.