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Premier League play-off plan could have legs

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Gordon Farquhar | 15:24 UK time, Monday, 15 February 2010

There have been some interesting things bobbing about in the Premier League think tank. "Game 39" might be semi-submerged now, but the contents have been given another stir and floating to the top, along with several others, has come Champions League fourth-place play-offs. Not a snappy title, but it might get a bit of traction.

Let's just add the health warning at this point. This is an idea, a discussion point, something for the clubs to consider. Nothing could be introduced for at least three years, because the TV deal's all mapped out. But it has been properly looked into, its possible implications modelled by statisticians and presented to the members.

The logic goes like this.

Four clubs - Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool - tend to dominate the four Champions League places allocated by Uefa to English teams. The huge amount of extra revenue (tens of millions) that comes into those clubs from Uefa for taking part tends to mean they have a financial advantage in the transfers and wages market. That in turn means they can afford the best players, which perpetuates their domination.

It is often argued that it's the Uefa cash that really skews the competitive balance in the Premier League. It has taken the seemingly limitless wealth of Manchester City's new owners to truly threaten the current hegemony. And as any Pompey fan will tell you, extraordinarily wealthy Arabs prepared to invest in football are few and far between.

What the clubs have been presented with is a vision of a new possibility. The suggestion seems to be that the top three would qualify as of right, with the fourth spot competed for in a separate knock-out competition.

The Champions League trophy
The play-offs could offer more clubs the chance to play for the Champions League trophy

This might just mean a home and away joust between finishers four and five, but there are other permutations, too, perhaps involving those finishing sixth and seventh as well. Any changes would need the usual minimum of 14 clubs in favour before anything could happen.

It's not hard to imagine how this is going to go down with the chairmen. For the genuinely ambitious clubs like Aston Villa, Man City and Spurs, frustrated at banging their heads on a glass ceiling, it's going to be attractive.

One presumes such enthusiasm wont be matched at Arsenal and Liverpool, nor Manchester United or Chelsea, for whom the Champions League has become an integral and regular part of their season, relied upon in United's case in their long-term business plans.

A couple of seasons without Champions League football for Liverpool at the moment would be a huge financial blow. Yet the attraction for the upper mid-table outfits like Birmingham, Everton and Fulham is clear to see.

There's a benefit to the Premier League as well. It would tend to keep the competition more intense for longer towards the end of the season, as clubs slugged it out for places five to seven.

It would also achieve the league's apparent objective of more matches, which, of course, "Game 39" says rather clearly on its tin.

More matches means more revenue to share, so everyone's a winner? Well, maybe. Fabio Capello, or whoever's England manager in 2014, might not like the idea of some of his squad players involved in yet more fixtures at the end of the season in World Cup year. More opportunities to make money versus the risk of mashed metatarsals or a burned-out back four?

Then there's fixture congestion at the end of the season. Champions League, Europa League, FA Cup? Would this muscle-in on the precious TV opportunities for the lower league play-off games?

And what next? Play-offs for the relegation places?

The Premier League's executive team are on a mission to keep one step ahead of their opposition in La Liga and Serie A. They see it as their obligation to keep checking whether the wheel needs re-inventing. This could be an idea that has legs.....


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  • Comment number 1.

    I think this is a fantastic idea, in the olympics, the top 3 get awarded with medals, the team or the individual that finishes 4th doesn't get anything. Of course the fans of the top 4 will be against the idea but the premier league needs this because too many teams are playing for negative reasons such as satying in the premier league.

    Initially teams like Everton, Villa, Spurs may struggle in the premier league but it wouldn't take them long to start performing just as well as the current top 4 teams as they will have the finance to attract the better players.

    It would make the premiership so much more competitive.

    Also it will allow the more successful teams to give younger players more opportunities in the cups such as league cup, europa cup, fa cup which can only be good for the future of the national team and also the game itself.

    This idea has to go through.

  • Comment number 2.

    As a Villa fan I'd back this idea (perhaps unsurprisingly). It will mean more meaningful fixtures at the end of the season and give clubs that have little hope of Champions League football a chance. However, there are other questions that need answered. What happens if England's co-efficient falls and only 3 places represent Champions League football. Is the idea dropped or is there a play-off for the 3rd position? If Fulham last year or say Birmingham City this year managed to qualify would that decrease drastically the quality of the English clubs in Europe? Would these clubs (along with ourselves) be able to compete in the Champions League? Would it be fair for a team in 4th to lose out at the expense of a club in 7th that could be 20+ points behind them? All in all a good idea but some details still need ironed out

  • Comment number 3.

    Nothing to do with money is suppose. Why not play the matches in the USA and Far East.

  • Comment number 4.

    The assumption that the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool would vote against the proposal isn't necessarily correct.

    These clubs would weigh up the potential downside (of finishing fourth but losing a play-off) against the extra safety-net (finishing lower, and winning the play-off).

    Ask any of the Big Four and I think they'd answer that they'd feel confident of beating anyone in a playoff - witness the Manchester derby in the Carling Cup semi-final, and United overturning a first leg deficit to make the final.

    As for burn-out, the obvious nettle which none of the teams in the lower half of the table are prepared to grasp is the reduction in size of the Premiership to 18 clubs...

  • Comment number 5.

    How about a play off between the winners of the Carling Cup and the FA Cup for Champions League football? Might make teams take the cups a little more seriously from now on.

  • Comment number 6.

    A few thoughts:

    1) It isn't just the extra revenue that allows the big 4 to attract the top talent. Arsenal for example spend very little on transfers compared to the likes of Spurs, but can attract promising youngsters by the reputation of the club, manager and the players already present. I can't see Fulham or Aston Villa being able to persuade the real cream of footballing talent to sign up without a MASSIVE cash incentive on the scale of Abrahmovic or other billionaire.

    2) Financial advantages exist in many forms in football and have done so for a long time. It's obvious that Fulham, Villa and Everton don't have the same monetary clout - look at their stadiums in comparison to the Emirates or Old Trafford. They'll never get the same number of fans through the gate - should the league legislate to redress this advantage as well?

    3) Mid table clubs will find themselves under pressure to spend their way in to the top 7 for a shot at glory. At the moment, people realise that the big 4 have a huge lead, built up over a decade of dominance. Leeds serve as a potent reminder of trying to compete on delusions of grandeur and 7th place will seem a realistic target to many clubs who should be prioritising survival rather than greatness.

    4) The Premier League may actually become less exciting because of it. Clubs that should be aiming high will know that finishing seventh is the new acceptable barometer, in the same way that fourth is the gold standard now. Fulham finished seventh after winning just 14 games last season - they LOST 13. Why should a team that barely wins as many games as it loses have a right to challenge for a place in Europe's elite?

  • Comment number 7.

    I've got mixed views.

    Unlike many I like the play-offs in the football league in general - they add excitement to the end of the season, mean that the majority of teams still have something to aim for come March so the season doesn't fizzle out into a damp squib for the last few months as would happen if only the top three went up and I think if you don't finish in the top two it's fair to not deserve to go up on merit and have to compete further for the final spot. Similarly in this case I don't think a team that finishes fourth deserves to automatically quality for the Champion's League.

    My reservation with the idea, however, is that I don't think the teams that finish fifth to seventh deserve to qualify for the Champion's League either. Personally I'd rather it went back to being a competition for, erm, Champions anyway where only the winners of each domestic league and the previous year's winner of the Champions League itself qualified and I can't help thinking, nice though it'd be for the likes of Fulham to qualify, a seventh placed team in the Champion's League would make the competition farcical. I also think it'd be harsh on the Everton team of a few years back or Spurs, Villa or Man City if they pip Liverpool this season to then be told they hadn't made it over the finish line and still have to compete further.

    But then, as with the football league play-offs it would give more teams more to aim for come the end of the season, although as usually the top five and often sixth and seventh qualify for the Europa League already, I'm not sure that's necessary anyway.

    So I don't think it's the worst idea on Earth and it's a far better idea than Game 39 but I don't think it's something the League's crying out for either.

  • Comment number 8.

    The likes of Villa, Everton and Man City have turnover below £80m per year. Arsenal and Chelsea have turnover THREE times this, United slightly more, Liverpool slightly less. It's extremely naive to think that this is just from the Champions League, it's from maximising merchandising, sponsorship agreements and matchday revenue. Arsenal, Liverpool and Man Utd are and have been for some half-century of longer been the three most successful and biggest clubs in the land. Chelsea have gate-crashed this party because of their obscene wealth allowing them to spend huge sums in the transfer market and on wages, elevating them to the levels of the other 3 in a relatively short space of time. Maybe Man City will follow Chelsea's lead and qualify for the Champions that way.

    Entry to the qualifying round of the Champion League is NOT the saviour of 'competition' in the Premier League. Everton had very little recent pedigree in Europe so recieved a tough qualifying draw in 2005-06 and didn't make the group stage, sides like Aston Villa and Tottenham will follow suit thanks to both their managers chucking the UEFA Cup weak selections last season (worth remembering when both managers are now moaning about other Premier League clubs 'de-valueing' the FA Cup). Less teams making the group stage would mean monies currently shared between four, will then be shared between 3 and sooner rather than later they'll be clubs calling for the playoff to include 3rd place too.

    Also, the last two seasons the team in 4th has finished at least 9 points clear of 5th place and 18 points clear of 7th place, how can you take away a Champions League qualifying berth from a team who has proved itself the 4th best in the land over 38 games and potentially leave them without any European competition for a team that could have spent three-quarters of the season in mid-table.

  • Comment number 9.

    it is a silly idea, all that would happen is the top 3 would be even more encased and the rest of the division would only be ambitious for 3rd!

  • Comment number 10.

    7th place potentially qualifying for the champions league is farcical. If you're not good enough to qualify for the top four, then you are not good enough to represent England in the champions league.

  • Comment number 11.

    I completely agree with the point that the top 4 dominate the Champions League spot and that a vicious circle has been created due to the distribution of Uefa cash. However, introducing a playoff system for the 4th place would degrade the Champions League as a competition. With all due respect to the smaller clubs, but a club like Fulham simply does not belong in the group stages of this prestigious cup (not yet anyway). It may seem unfair that the top four dominate, but they do get to those top four places by consistent performance over the season. By introducing a playoff system, basically what you are doing is rewarding a club for playing a mediocre season, but an excellent match, which is ridiculous.

  • Comment number 12.

    I would like to see the FA cup winners in any such play off plan to breath new life into a once magical competion. Other than that the amount of cash available will decide wether it is a yes or no.

  • Comment number 13.

    Wouldn't this lead the top four to consider breaking away from the current structure of the tv deal? They could break away from the sharing of profits and move to a system like the one in Spain where the clubs sell the rights individually. The other 16 clubs may regret this move once they find their tv revenue slashed especially in foreign markets where the interest in clubs outside of the top four is quite small.

  • Comment number 14.

    I think this is a terrible idea. How I laughed when Rugby introduced a similar tactic to decide the winner of the league.
    If after 38 games a 'smaller' team does manage to break into the top 4 as Everton did a few years back they could soon enough lose out because of this play-off. I think that after 38 games you have your best 4 teams. If you can't make it into the top 4 should you really be playing the "Champions" league?
    Sure it would bring more money in for clubs and yes it would make things more exciting but imagine if your team did manage to break top 4 only to get beaten by the seventh place team, possibly because of a dodgy decision. It'd make a mockery of the whole season's work and effort


  • Comment number 15.

    So, If Birmingham, for example, won the play-offs they would then have to compete in the Champions League qualifying round(s). They may be less equipped to qualify for the group stage if they came up against a tough side such as Valencia.

    Then England would only have 3 representatives and would harm the ranking with Uefa and the Premier League could be seriously in danger of losing the fourth Champions League berth. Therefore the plan will actually harm every single PL side, pretty much.

  • Comment number 16.

    I think this is a brilliant idea, I'm a City fan and I think it will help teams like us, Villa, Spurs and any other teams in the future to aspire to Champions league football, for a neutral it would be a brilliant game to watch, depending if it was over 2 legs or at Wembley? It'd be so much better than a crunch match between someone like Man Utd. and Arsenal or Chelsea, and it makes the Premiership more exciting towrds the end of the season

  • Comment number 17.

    In interests of not overbloating an already heavy schedule, a two match play off may be an interesting idea:

    5th Place v 6th Place

    4th Place v Winner 5th/6th

    Both one off matches in a neutral venue.
    Winner would get automatic Champs League and loser automatic Europa.

    Think this would still give an advantage to 4th place but add a bit of spice to the end of year performers.

  • Comment number 18.

    Some thoughts:

    Would this lead to a big three instead of a big four thus reducing the likelihood of anyone other than Man U, Chelsea or Arsenal winning the league?

    A team in fourth to seventh place who qualified the previous year and were in the CL final would have another 4(??) playoff games to fit in at end of season.

    Great preparation for World Cup and European Champonship years, as the clubs in 4th - 7th would probably have many England players involved.

    Bob Paisley said the best thing about the European Cup triumphs was qualifying for the competition (i.e. winning the league). How he must be turning in his grave.

    It's bad enough having non champions winning the "Champions" league, but at least the top four have either won the league recently or have the potential to win it. Dropping qualification to seventh means teams that have NEVER in their history come close to winning the league could win the Champions league.

    Playofs for relegation were in the original format, with the third bottom team joing the 3rd 4th and 5th teams of the second tier.

    Would this tempt the teams in the lower half of the league to mortgage themselves even more to try to sneak into the CL, rather than just mortgaging themselves to the hilt to survive in the Premiership?

  • Comment number 19.

    I can see how this ties in with the Game 39 idea.

    If this goes through I can see the Premier League doing everything in it's power to ensure that the "Fourth-Placed Play-Off Matches" are played in Asia or America or anywhere Game 39 would have been...

    Money-Spinner to the extreme.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet, but this already happens in the Eredivisie in the Netherlands. In the old days of the Intertoto Cup, the top 13 clubs (other than the champions) were involved in various play offs for European places - so in 06, 4th placed Ajax made the Champions League, the teams in 2,3,5 and 7 places made the UEFA Cup and 9th placed Twente got the Intertoto spot.

    They changed it last year so that the play off is now only for the Europa League; suggesting that it wasn't that popular?

  • Comment number 21.

    Sounds like a win-win situation for everybody, except for the team that finisheds 4th, doesn't it?
    But think about it - if the 4th place team (say Arsenal) is 10 points ahead of 5th place with three games to go, they will clearly rest their best team to be fresh for the play offs.
    And if those last three Arsenal fixtures are against teams near the bottom? Good news for Arsenal's opponents in those last three games, not so good for the teams around them.
    The league doesn't lie after thirty eight games and let's keep it that way - for the sake of the teams both at the top and the bottom.

  • Comment number 22.

    I don't see why fans of Manchester City, Tottenham or Aston Villa would be backing this. All 3 clubs have ambition to finish fourth, and considering it would be 3years until this is brought in surely they would hope they are finishing fourth.

    So what would they think if they voted in favour, but then when they finish 4th comfortably yet they have to go through this play-off system. I doubt they would be pleased after years of trying to break into the top4 for the sole reason of Champions League football.

    I have no problems with the current system, teams qualifying through league merit over the course of a season, it's going to be a fight for 4th anyway, the gap has been closing.

    This idea hopefully will never happen, it's similar to saying the team who win the Premiership have an unfair advantage, therefore at the end of the season the TOP4 will compete in a mini league for the title.

  • Comment number 23.

    What a stupid idea!

    The Champions League has already been devalued, by the fact you don't even have to be the champions of your country.

    Why don't we put 92 straws into a hat,so the likes of Rochdale and Burton Albion have a chance!!!

    Better still we don't we revert back to the 3 cups UC,UEFA AND ECWC instead of the greed factor.

  • Comment number 24.

    who does this help exactly? now fair enough try find a way to get the league more competitive but this does nothing but help man city, everton, spurs and villa so basically creating a 2nd tier big 4. take man utd, chelsea, arsenal and liverpool out of the equation and the 4 i mention above are still head and shoulders above 12 teams who always finish below them over 38 games. add man citys millions to it and all youre doing is helping the richest team in the league have a slightly better chance of beating the 4th place team shud it not be them already. all this would do is effectively create 2 separate "big 4" sort of races. the 4 who can and have potential to win the title (chelsea, utd, arsenal, liverpool) and 4 whod always dominate in the race to make it into a play off place (villa, spurs, city, everton). an effective big 8 but still as proven in past few years a usually 9 or more point gap between 4th and 5th

    if a team finishes 4th - say arsenal or liverpool and are like 9 or 10 points clear of 5th then why shud 5th to 7th have any right to get an extra attempt at getting lucky in 1 or 2 play off games when they werent good enough over 38 games? the real problem right now in the prem league is the teams chasing the top 4 arent consistent enough. in fact this season. man city, spurs and villa have all been so poor at times that its easy to see why rafa benitez guaranteed liverpool wud be in the top 4 again.

  • Comment number 25.

    There was never such a clear line of domination in the top flight before the Champion's League, and so of course it's because of the CL (both in terms of direct cash and the indirect revenue gains from the exposure). The fix is simple = share a portion of revenues. The Big 4 would be nothing without 16 other teams to dominate every week. The US NFL has excellent parity because they have a comprehensive revenue sharing system - who's going to win the 2011 Super Bowl? - nobody has a clue; who's going to win the 10/11 EPL? We can all narrow it down to probably two perhaps four (or max 5) choices. I'm not suggesting being as drastic as the NFL with revenue sharing, but clearly there is middle ground in this concept.

  • Comment number 26.

    RE: #9, that should have read 7th...

  • Comment number 27.

    It's a pathetic idea. For all the Spurs fans, Villa fans etc who support this idea, may I be the first one to laugh in your faces when your team finally breaks into the top 4 and lose this lame playoff to someone like Liverpool or Arsenal. A place in the champions league should be earned over 38 games. I would back extra Europa league places instead of giving it to cup winners or runners up.

    If the 'lesser' teams start getting into the CL and don't make it past the qualifying rounds (remember Everton) then this country will lose the 4th spot alltogether!

  • Comment number 28.

    Great idea, it's turned all the other leagues around. When the competition is heated up it makes results far more unpredictable. It's happened in the Championship, it makes for more attacking never know, the 7th team might roller-coaster to the final on confidence just like in the rest of the play offs.

  • Comment number 29.

    Man City will defnitely break into the top 4 at the expense of either Arsenal or Liverpool in the next couple of years so I'm not sure this idea has much merit.

  • Comment number 30.

    My heart says yes, my head says no.

    In all honesty, this is a money making scheme for the Premier League, nothing more. I think that sometimes, we all think it may be romantic to have 'surprise' packages maybe getting into the CL, but in all honesty they will be murdered when they actually get there. See Everton a few years ago(no offense toffee fans), they were completely out of their depth and not ready for the level of competition they found there.

    I think final league position should be gained through merit, not a lottery at the end of the season.

    More cynical money-making schemes from Scudamore.

  • Comment number 31.

    @ 27: "...may I be the first one to laugh in your faces when your team finally breaks into the top 4 and lose this lame playoff to someone like Liverpool or Arsenal" - Very well said. The same Liverpool or Arsenal would just regard it as an easy shoe-in if they don't make it over 38 games. They'd love it.

    Or how about a play-off pool thingy whereby the 4th place is played for over however long it takes, by the 4th to 17th-placed teams (assuming 3 are relegated already)??
    Or just shave off the Top Three, put them in the CL EVERY year & have the PL without them for 4th spot?
    Yeah, I'm warming to this ;-)

  • Comment number 32.

    If the Premier League are looking to extend the season (this idea and Game 39), why not have a 'Respect' league table? You could involve the top team(s) in a tournament with the 'fair play' winners from other leagues in a lucrative tournament at Wembley or abroad.

    In fact, if UEFA introduced a pan-European 'fair play' competition with the top 'fair play' team from each country playing in a knockout competition it would be rewarding teams for their fair play, therefore encouraging it. The criteria could include the amount of red and yellow cards, but could also include racial equalities standards and the behaviour of fans - should also take respecting refereeing decisions into account.

    I know it sounds a bit fluffy but the 'Respect' campaign is hardly a screaming success is it?

  • Comment number 33.

    Just give a Champion's League place to the winner of the FA Cup, who are in my eyes already more deserving of it that the team that finished fourth in the league.

  • Comment number 34.

    This is a direct effort to somehow qualify Liverpool to the champions league over the seasons to come..

  • Comment number 35.

    For the genuinely ambitious clubs like Aston Villa, Man City and Spurs...the upper mid-table outfits like Birmingham, Everton and Fulham .

    Typical media clap-trap. Funny how the only side to have actually beaten the Sky 4 cartel is condescendingly placed in the 'upper mid-table outfits.

    Great bit of journalism as ever I don't think!!!

  • Comment number 36.

    This is a great idea - It's all very well for fans of the big four - or in this case Arsenal and Liverpopol fans who seem to be content with 4th spot every year suggesting that if over 38 games a team that is 7th and maybe 20 points behind 4th then they dont deserve the opportunity - look at it this way. The reason you get the point gulf every year is because the Champions league gives the same teams (1st to 4th)massive financial advantages over everyone else so it is virtually impossoble to close that point gap and it isnt a level playing field for all teams.

    Talk to most people and the Premier league is fast becoming totally predictable and boring now - when was the last time you saw a team like Newcastle promoted and challenging the top 4?

    I doubt it will go through though because as per usual the top clubs will vote against it in fear if losing their monopoly

  • Comment number 37.

    I've long wanted to see the FA Cup winners in the CL. If there is to be a playoff, why not between 4th, 5th, 6th and the Cup winners then.

    At any rate, a playoff system could quickly reduce the Big Four to a Big Three. There's no guarantee the 6th or 7th placed team (we're talking the likes of Spurs, Everton, Villa and Fulham here right?) will make the CL proper, in which case the English market share will be split three-way rather than by four teams. That will only make the rich even richer.

    Liverpool will love the idea though, it will give them a fighting change in years to come. If City do get a top-4 spot, it will be catastrophic for whichever of the now traditional Big Four misses out. City do not need the money, they've their sugar daddy to bail them out. But Liverpool missing out on £30m+ will be a killer blow.

  • Comment number 38.

    Oh, and it's so blatantly obvious the whole idea behind this is to take the Premiership abroad... These playoffs would be sold to the highest bidder, no doubt about it.

  • Comment number 39.

    RE:17. That format would make this proposition far more appealing. Although I am a Villa fan, I am against this idea at the moment under the format everybody is suggesting it will be competed. However, if it was to be competed as the 5th place team getting a home tie against 6th place or the FA cup winners, and the winner of that match taking on the 4th place team at the 4th placed team's ground, then this would be something worth considering. It gives the 4th placed team a greater advantage by having a bye to the final which is played at their ground. It also eliminates the idea of 7th place competing, because that is just one step too far

  • Comment number 40.

    Stupid idea. We have enough luck in football as it is without adding more by having a play off for the 4th Euro place. Perhaps giving the 4th place to the FA cup winners would be a better idea as at least this would be a team that won something rather than a team that came 4th.

    Otherwise just keep it the same

  • Comment number 41.

    #1, 'I think this is a fantastic idea, in the olympics, the top 3 get awarded with medals, the team or the individual that finishes 4th doesn't get anything.'

    What an inane comment. This proposal should be considered before we make any rash decisions (there are 3 years to mull it over). It looks like the big four is almost at an end anyway, with the likes of Aston Villa, Spurs and Man City. Should we be worried about a 'big three'? No. If Chelsea, Man U and Arsenal occupy the top three in one year, Liverpool will still be around to contest the next season. As they did when Everton stole their 4th place.
    I quite like the idea of the F.A. cup winner playing in the champion's league but this may rob the 'promising youngsters' from their experience in the big games.
    Its a toughie

  • Comment number 42.

    The team that qualifies in fourth place has to play 40 games to qualify for the Champions League, with the new proposal that would make it neutral venues and another two games, both with extra time and penalties.
    So the FA CUP gets even less priority and the team that qualifies after finishing seventh increase's the chances for Real Madrid, just ask the bookies, or you can always ask Professor Wenger?

  • Comment number 43.

    I was never a fan of Game 39, its a disgusting idea.

    The Champions League playoffs however, are the breath of fresh air the Premiership needs. Even fans of the big four can surely appreciate this if they look at with an unbiased view.

    And as far as I'm concerned they can play these games anywhere in the world.

  • Comment number 44.

    We should be focusing on far more important issues like increasing the ban for the apparently ineffective yellow cards so we can avert another "Eduardo Broken Leg Tackle" Review the stupid offside law? Video Technology? Rascist Nationalist Passport Quotarising that will put the game back two decades and still be a handicapp ?

  • Comment number 45.

    what would this mean for the europa leage places?how would they be decide, by league places or how they finish in the play-offs

  • Comment number 46.

    I could see there just becoming a top 3 which pull away from 4+5 who pull away from the rest - exasperating the problem if anything

  • Comment number 47.

    If Portsmouth go out of business and all those fan's that have spent lots of money going to the games now realise it was a waste of their time and money and their teams efforts, when some clubs get relegated on the back of his debacle and some clubs fail to win the Premiership or qualify for the Champions league the position of those at the helm of the Premiership will be untenable, that is what should be taking priority, but what have we come to expect?

  • Comment number 48.

    what football needs is:

    a) regional franchises. basically the current top league teams, and then a few more to make sure the whole country has a regional team.

    b) a salary cap. all teams spending the same amount of money. no more big 4 spending more on one player than the other teams spend on a squad. at least two thirds of the teams in the competition should start the season believing they have some sort of chance of winning the title.

    c) equal distribution of wealth. no more MUFC and chelsea reaping all the benefits in asia. those clubs are nothing without teams to play against, and the money should be put into one big kitty to be split between everyone.

    d) no relegation. whilst relegation is all good, it does not provide a safe place to do business, and encourages gambling. ie spend nothing and hope you stay up, or spend millions and hope you stay up--- if you spend millions and go down, you're screwed.

    e) dont use the league system. the NFL system should be used, with regional divisions and then playoffs to decide the winner.

    think what you like about american football. most football supporters seem pretty xenephobic about the sport, but the NFL has a setup that is light years ahead of football.

  • Comment number 49.

    This is a great idea - It's all very well for fans of the big four - or in this case Arsenal and Liverpopol fans who seem to be content with 4th spot every year suggesting that if over 38 games a team that is 7th and maybe 20 points behind 4th then they dont deserve the opportunity - look at it this way. The reason you get the point gulf every year is because the Champions league gives the same teams (1st to 4th)massive financial advantages over everyone else so it is virtually impossoble to close that point gap and it isnt a level playing field for all teams.

    Talk to most people and the Premier league is fast becoming totally predictable and boring now - when was the last time you saw a team like Newcastle promoted and challenging the top 4?

    I doubt it will go through though because as per usual the top clubs will vote against it in fear if losing their monopoly

    So a couple of Arsenal fans on this blog have raised reservations about the proposal, and yet you infer that Arsenal and Liverpool fans in general are against this, and that they are content with 4th to sustain the monopoly of the Premiership? This is the problem with using the views of a few fans to make blanket statements about the preferences of fans of certain clubs. It's no surprise that Liverpool and Arsenal fans are being picked on, as they are easy targets, especially as they are part of the "Sky 4" and because of their relative lack of trophies recently, the ideological criticism is made that L'pool and Arsenal fans are comfortable just finishing forth, because of the financial benefits, and have lost their soul, because they lack the ambition to win silverware. This is definitely a fallacy, because if you read the messageboards of Liverpool and Arsenal, you will see a significant number of fans who want to win a trophy, whether it's the FA Cup, UCL, etc. So sometimes fans need to take a more balanced perspective, rather than resort to Arsenal and Liverpool bashing which everyone seems to love engaging in.

  • Comment number 50.

    at first glance, this seems like a really great idea. I would love to see this implemented. Watching man city, spurs and the other second tier clubs go up against europe's best every once and a while would create great drama, as well as of course competing for that spot being drama in itself.

    However, as a chelsea fan perhaps i'm biased because for the moment at least, we can be somewhat confident of finishing in the top three most season.

  • Comment number 51.

    This is completely the wrong idea. It doesn't address the problem which is that the Champions League has distorted domestic football for the last 15 years, increasingly so.

    The problem with the Champions League is that there are too many places. Teams like Liverpool and Arsenal do not try hard enough to win their domestic title any more, accepting 3rd and 4th as an achievement. Make the Champions League 2 slots per country and you will soon see attitudes change - the pressure of trying to hit that top two will encourage more mistakes and open the playing field to teams like Villa and Spurs who might just make it in that way, whereas it is nigh on impossible in the current format.

  • Comment number 52.

    Hey what a great idea, but why stop at 4,5,6, & 7 why not have the play off include the teams down to 18, 19 & 20, better still forget having a league in which teams spend 38 games earning a position, lets just have a knockout from the start of the season to see who is league champions.....seriously the world in which you get your just rewards for earning it has gone....we will be drawing the winners out of a hat soon

  • Comment number 53.

    Alex Ferguson had the biggest stadium, an intimidating crowd and the most money, "perpetuating domination". The rich get richer.

  • Comment number 54.

    A point that I don't think has been raised is about fixture congestion at the end of the season. It is quite possible for a club to be a) In the FA Cup Final, b) In the CL / Europa cup final, and c) battling to get into and then d) actually in the play offs.

    Even if the club in question doesn't reach the Europa Cup or FA Cup finals, they may end up playing a ridiculous number of games across the course of a season.

    How will this affect England if it's a World Cup / European Cup Year? Some of our best players may be involved in these games. The last thingwe need is yet more games and possibly more injuries..

  • Comment number 55.

    How can you justify a comment like "Arsenal and Liverpool do not try hard enough to win the domestic title?" Wenger at the start of every season says the league is the priority. Just because both clubs have failed in recent seasons doesn't mean the effort hasn't been there. Liverpool last season were quite close to winning the league, and if Macheda hadn't scored that late winner, the pressure may have really been on United at the end of the season. In 07-08, Arsenal were 8 points at the end of February, and only fell away near the end of the season. So I can't see how you can say these two clubs haven't tried hard enough to win the league.

  • Comment number 56.

    Maybe they should open it out even more and have 20 teams playing each other home and away over 38 games, with the top 4 qualifying.
    Oh hang on...

    This idea will most likely be backed by the big four. They will battle for the top 3 spots as usual but will have a back door if things don't go to plan.

    How long is the season going to be???
    The sooner the Premiership is trimmed to 16, the better.

    If this ridiculous idea is approved and we start getting teams embarrassing themselves in the CL, our UEFA coefficient could suffer and we could end up losing the 4th CL slot anyway. If we lost that 4th slot, watch a big club go bust...

    Whoever thought this up needs their head examining.

  • Comment number 57.

    well you won't be surprised but as an Arsenal fan i am against this idea. Last season 7th placed Fulham finished 19 points behind Arsenal. it doesn't seem fair for 7th place to enter the Champions League by simply winning a play off. the league is the ultimate test of quality and consistency.

    i would however like to see a league where many more teams are fighting for the top honours, and where there isn't such a chasm between the top teams and the rest. what we need to realise though is that these things go in cycles. The current top 4 won't be there for all of eternity. in fact, it will clearly be broken sooner or later. And once it does we will start to see it broken on a consistent basis because many teams are catching up.

  • Comment number 58.

    I hate play-offs.

    A league season is a league season, not three matches at the end of the season, in this case whoever finishes fourth has worked for nine months to earn the right to represent their country in the competition.

    Its the same with championship play-offs who-ever finishes third should go up to the Premiers League they have earned it over nine months and not just how they perform over a two leg semi-final and final.

    Its all about money, nothing else. If it works don't break it.

  • Comment number 59.

    Alex Ferguson had the media saying "so you're off to Old Trafford next week, that's three points lost" He couldn't have wished for better propoganda ! it culminated when he played his weakest team in a decade and Mick Macarthy decided to rest his best 9 players. Does the media help Perpetuate Domination?

  • Comment number 60.

    #18: "A team in fourth to seventh place who qualified the previous year and were in the CL final would have another 4(??) playoff games to fit in at end of season."

    More to the point, what would happen if that lowly-placed finalist actually WON the competition, as Liverpool did in 2005? After that summer's debate over whether Liverpool should qualify for the CL instead of 4th-placed Everton, UEFA changed the rules and said that in future the defending champions would automatically qualify and the 4th-placed team wouldn't. All those playoffs would be for naught.

    As a Liverpool fan I'm inclined against the idea, although I can also see the argument that it would give give us a bigger safety net.

  • Comment number 61.

    Something HAS to be done. The Premier League has been compromised in it's competitiveness because of the Champions League places - and it's about time that changed.
    The lure of Champions League for players means the clubs finishing just outside the top four can struggle to keep their players. Although Gareth Barry ultimately left Villa for Man City, remember that he wanted away to Liverpool on the promise of Champions League football.
    If the proposal shakes up who can get into the Champions League, it will definitely help the bigger issue of who contests the Premier League.

  • Comment number 62.

    No, no, no English sides already played more games than any other. We should drop the Carling Cup for the top 4. To me the most important comp. is the PL and then the FA Cup and all have a crack at those 2.
    I would love to see the likes of RM, Barca, ACM and Inter play a full English season. They would start ok but couldn't keep pace.

  • Comment number 63.

    Hey what a great idea, but why stop at 4,5,6, & 7 why not have the play off include the teams down to 18, 19 & 20, better still forget having a league in which teams spend 38 games earning a position, lets just have a knockout from the start of the season to see who is league champions.....seriously the world in which you get your just rewards from earning it has gone....we will be drawing the winners out of a hat soon

  • Comment number 64.

    I think it's a ridiculous idea. You could have a 4th place team who have battled their way to 4th being undone by one-hit-wonder cup teams like Liverpool who aren't good enough to get there on merit.
    It's the same with the play offs!!!

  • Comment number 65.

    The big 4 is now the big 5 and 5 into 4 doesnt go!
    The power brokers at the premier league are creating a safety net for the once great Liverpool so that they can once again qualify for the 'champions league' via some contrived method.
    EPL is only a couple of years away from the SPL, until there is equal sky tv money distribution and an american style draft transfer system in place then the EPL will remain a 3 horse race with the rest playing hoofball to stay in the league.
    Here is an idea, give both cup winners a champions league spot as they have actually won something along with the EPL champs with the teams finishing 2nd 3rd 4th Europa league places.
    Now that would make things interesting and not just feed the fat cats.

  • Comment number 66.

    Where's my comment?All new members are pre-moderated initially, which means that there will be a short delay between when you post your comment and when it appears while one of our moderators checks it.

    New member???? I have been here for years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Comment number 67.

    Crazy. For years FIFA, UEFA, managers, fan, pretty much everyone has been saying that we need to reduce the number of fixtures and clubs in the top flight. And for about the same period the PL has been inventing increasingly fevered ideas of ways to play more games to make more money.

    If they really want the money to be spread more widely then just spread it. It's TV money from central contracts; it is within their power. No, clearly this is not the aim. As many have pointed out already these games will need to be held in neutral grounds and where's more neutral than Tokyo?

    The Big Four's hegemony is maintained not only because of the amount they are able to spend on transfer fees due to the CL income but also because of the size of the squads they are able to maintain. Strength in depth, as they say. More games only increases their advantage.

    Long term they are harming themselves however. It's already a shock to the media when a non B4 team manage to breach the top four positions. Another few years of watching them swap CL positions while the other 18 scrap to avoid relegation will not make edifying viewing. TV figures and advertising revenues will reflect that. My prophesy is that it will take one of the B4 to go bust (a very real possibility for 3 of them) before they agree to salary caps or squad limits but that this is the only way for the PL to carry on long term.

    I hate to say it, but Alan Sugar was right. Most football club chairman wouldn't know restraint if it put them in a head lock. They will continue to urinate all their income away on wages until it's all gone.

  • Comment number 68.

    Here's a novel idea - why don't we have each team play each other team twice per season, once at home and once away. We can award 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. At the end of the season, tot up the points and the 4 teams with the highest total qualify for the Champions League.

    We could even extend it to the lower divisons - the 3 teams with the highest points totals get promoted and the 3 teams with the lowest totals get relegated.

    That's the sarcasm out of the way, but it reflects my opinion that people are no longer interested in rewarding success anymore. They'd rather reward mediocrity and get some extra money while doing it.

    The whole point of a league system is that it is a long haul competition, not a knock-out - we've got the FA and League cups for that. The league system is there to discover which teams have been operating most consistently over the whole season.

  • Comment number 69.

    as a united fan, I'm against the playoff idea, but for different reasons. personally the champions league should have been the top 2 or 3 for each league max, like it used to be, and if we (united) didnt qualify, then tough, as title challengers we should always aim to be up there. but why not offer the 4th place to the FA cup winner? it adds even more value to a great cup that has been diminished somewhat, and we wont need extra games.

  • Comment number 70.

    Hey why not reverse the league at the end of the season, so the top 4 get relegated, and the bottom 4 have a playoff to see who's the league champions, and who gets the champions league spots. Actually why not just do away with the league all together, and just play paper, scissors, rock to see who gets the places....sounds fair to me

  • Comment number 71.

    Crazy and selfish idea.
    The prospect of a team finishing 7th and becoming Champions of Europe remote though it may be is ludicrous and as for those suggesting the FA Cup winners should qualify, ha! If you simply want to make the Premier League more competitive introduce a salary cap. If you want to just make more money, then why not go the whole hog and have the entire rest of the league go into playoffs for the 4th Champions League spot. Incidentally does anyoen ever stop to think that fans can't afford to go the increasing number of matches being played, hence why FA Cup attendances are down. More matches like these proposed playoffs mean almost no-one will turn up to watch Carling Cup or FA Cup. Less matches = more fans attending = better finances for clubs and better atmospheres for games.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think the champions of each of the national leagues should only qualify automatically for champions league group stage. While 2nd to 6th or 7th play out a play-off to decide who goes through with the champions of that league. So say if ManU won the league, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, City, Spurs, Villa will all play a play-off to decide who joins ManU in the group stages. If the whole of Europe uses it might make the Champions league more interesting and the league season towards the end.

  • Comment number 73.

    This would be an absolute joke. Even as a Liverpool fan who may even relinquish 4th place to City this year, I can't agree with allowing the 7th place team to have a chance at Champion's League football over a team who has earned their place as one of the best four teams over the entire season. People have long complained that it's no loner truly the "Champions" league as we're allowed four entrants, but this would further diminish the quality of the tournament. I already disagree that the 6th place team in the Championship can win promotion to the Premiership based on a one-off final at the end of the season, but this would be a complete farce!

  • Comment number 74.

    Playoffs are dreadful and horrendously unfair. The league is as fair as it gets, each team plays each other home and away and the league positions are determined accordingly. I always think it's dreadful in the Championship when a team has had a great season, is in the top 2 all year then has a bad month and drops to 3rd and is inevitably beaten in the playoffs as they're in bad form, by a team who has been mediocre/poor until March but has a good run. Some say it makes it a more interesting spectacle as a neutral, well I am a neutral in that respect and I just get annoyed at the injustice of it. If you want the thrill of one off games and unpredictability you have the FA and League cups, the league should remain the league. In any case, with premier league clubs owned by a variety of foreign owners of variable means, the financial argument no longer holds water. Manchester United are Champions and will likely finish there or there abouts this season but Manchester City have more money. Apart from Chelsea, the top 4 are where they are because of good management over a long period of time (The Glazers are of course doing their best to undermine this, but that's a side issue), why should they be punished for this?

  • Comment number 75.

    48. At 7:48pm on 15 Feb 2010, Forrest_Gump wrote:

    a) regional franchises.

    b) a salary cap.

    c) equal distribution of wealth.

    d) no relegation.

    e) dont use the league system. the NFL system should be used, with regional divisions and then playoffs to decide the winner.


    a) That's just so wrong. That's why real gridiron fans watch college football, not NFL. No-one really gives two hoots about franchises that are moved around the country on the whim of their owners or the networks.

    b) That is the NFL's only good idea.

    c) It makes me chuckle that the country that attacks the NHS for being communist could use this system in their flagship sporting event. While distribution could be more equal, I don't think many will argue that it should be entirely equal.

    d) No relegation has the corollary of no promotion. You are suggesting that the 22 current PL teams wall themselves off from the rest of the league, destroying the point of the existence for every other club out there?

    e) Again, just very, very wrong. The north west might be able to muster a passing regional league, but outside that it's absurb. It works in the NFL because NY is 3 timezones away from LA making away support an impossibility, but should, say, Leeds really be in a different league to Stoke?

  • Comment number 76.

    What happened to the table doesn't lie? At the end of the season the team finishing 7th is not better than the one that finished fourth, but as the one finishing fourth is likely to have played many more games (eg champs league) over the course of the season there players will be burnt out, and 7th would have a decent chance of winning.

    But hey, why stay at four? Why not have 2-7 play off for the 3 non champions places? Forget it, why not throw away more than a century of history and have the top 4 play off for the title, we'll call it the Premier Bowl! It would be exciting and bring lots of money! Who wants a slice of that action?

    4 years ago there was no big 4, just a big 3, before liverpool won the CL the media called it the big 2. The "big" group keeps on growing, I bet if city make 4th we'll have a "big 5" next year! The point is this year Tottenham, Villa and City all have a chance to get CL football without destroying the league format. If you think it's all about money add up how much Spurs have spent in the last 10 years, It's a lot more than what Arsenal have! If Tottenham drop 6 points to Wolves in a season (no disrepect wolves) they aren't going to get 4th, and they won't deserve it, or deserve to be in the CL. The same goes for United when they fall to that level too (may that be long into the future) Look at Everton/Fulham this year, both only managed 3 Europa League away wins in the recent groups! They'd be humiliated in the CL, the nation would be humilated, we'd loose our 4th spot and then what? 3 downwards play off?

    This is a far worse idea than the 39th game, which at least preseves the age old adgage that the table doesn't lie. This idea is everything I've come to expect from the money first league we now play in, 1BN isn't enough for 20 clubs is it? NOoooooooooooo, we need more! The greed of people like scudmore and Gartisde is ruining our game, we could very shortly see the first PL team to be liquidated, and the PL are talking about Playoffs! Get your heads in the right place, sort out a set of financial rules where football expenses cannot exceed football revenue, that would not only keep clubs from paying stupid wages and transfer fees, but even the playing field too.

  • Comment number 77.

    Im a Spurs fan and i obviously hope we get Champions League football one year but this is just another money making idea from the Premier League. It the best league in the world why change it?!?! the drama of these play offs could become spectacular but its so wrong on so many levels. how can a team who finishes 7th have the possibility of playing Barcelona the next season while the team that finished 4th and 20 points clear of 7th plays Europa League, think of the financial for starters. Also where will these Play Offs be held? I have a feeling that the Premier League may ironically decide to play them on 4 different contintents of the world just like Gam£ 39

  • Comment number 78.

    This would be an absolute joke. Even as a Liverpool fan who may even relinquish 4th place to City this year, I can't agree with allowing the 7th place team to have a chance at Champion's League football over a team who has earned their place as one of the best four teams over the entire season. People have long complained that it's no loner truly the "Champions" league as we're allowed four entrants, but this would further diminish the quality of the tournament. I already disagree that the 6th place team in the Championship can win promotion to the Premiership based on a one-off final at the end of the season, but this would be a complete farce!


    I agree with this to a fair extent, if a team (such as Stoke or Portsmouth) is promoted into the Premier League and managed to squeeze into the top seven in a one off season, then a place that a team such as Liverpool, Spurs or Manchester City has worked exceptionally hard to gain will prove no more significant than the one three spots below. I do not like the idea of a tema's entire season's smbitions lying on a couple of matches, as this will take a champions league place from a team that perhaps plays better football and deserves it more.
    However I do appreciate the idea of equality and perhaps this will add some zest to the competition, giving every team a chance to aim for Europe. Who knows, it might even improve the atmosphere in some stadiums (EMirates, Craven Cottage)....

  • Comment number 79.

    I think what needs to be remembered, is that in the Netherlands, they have tried the idea of Champions League Play-offs only a few years ago. And what happened to that? It was scrapped. They have kept a Europa League play off system however didn't think a Champions League system worked as well. Plus, they went from 2nd place to 5th place, and that may be a weaker league with less wealth but seriously think about it, teams can be playing Championship football one season, finish 7th the next and be in Europe's elite football competition without even being able to call themselves an elite team. Somehow, I don't think the idea will work.

  • Comment number 80.


    See Everton a few years ago(no offense toffee fans), they were completely out of their depth and not ready for the level of competition they found there

    Your wrong there Stuz. Everton were beat by a team that got all the way to the semi-finals. Everton were very unlucky to lose to Villareal. They trailed 2-1 from the first leg, but had a goal chalked off (for no apparent reason), which would of taken the game into extra time. Pierluigi Collina then went on to retire (there was no way uefa, were going to allow 5 English teams to qualify for the champions league proper). I've always thought the championship league play-off was unfair, I feel no different about this. But I reckon, the like of Spurs and Villa could easily hold their own in the champions league.

  • Comment number 81.

    Just re-thinking.
    Drop the carling cup for the PL. Reduce the PL to 18 (2 up 2 down) with plans to reduce 16 in the future.
    Then maybe our national side might win something. Our top players play far too much football.

  • Comment number 82.

    I thought we already had a play off system. It's 38 games long and called the Premier League.

    True it's not great that the same four teams have been getting their for quite a while now but as we saw from when Everton made it, there is a reason for that. Arsenal managed to challenge because of great management rather than bags and bags of cash and have stayed their since despite still not having as much money as others.

    It just seems like a silly idea to me. This year the race for 4th has been closer than ever but I still can't see anyone but Liverpool making it there just about, in the end!

  • Comment number 83.

    Aside from the fact that a Champions League should be contested between CHAMPIONS, this idea is nuts because:

    1) The Premier League IS a play-off, 20 teams, 38 games. In its history, the 4th team had 18 pts more than the 7th team 3 times. Only once was it under 6 pts. If the 7th team fluked it it makes a mockery of that.

    2) This season ends just 5 weeks before the World Cup. The play-offs add 3 more 'life-and-death' games over 2 weeks to already exhausted players. If the season finished as it stands today, just look at how many England players would be involved, not to mention other countries.

    3) I'm all for putting forward wacky ideas to see who supports them (eg: game 39) but when they are overwhelmingly rejected by the public it is insulting to have them brought back in another guise. The plan seems to be to keep bringing it back until we say, "I give in. Do what you like!"

    As a fan of a lower league team that lost points in the last two seasons and have a transfer embargo, I'm worried about Portsmouth. If they are wound up next week, HMR&C win. They can then take 10-20 other clubs to court and their case is simple: "We cite the Portsmouth precendent. We rest our case." I hope this is so. A bit scare-mongery but a possibility.

    I guess we must face facts: The price of Premier and Champions League football is outrageous commercialism that will finish the game off.

  • Comment number 84.

    A Playoff for 4th would offer some more competition for the 4th spot perhaps but would serve to cement even further the top 2 of Chelsea and Man Utd as it would weaken Arsenal and Liverpool.

    Man Utd is a monolith at the top of the Premier League which has built up a huge squad and who's only real competition for the PL is Chelsea who have spent a fortune and have the biggest wage bill in the PL.

    To compete with Chelsea and Man Utd. requires lots of cash and is forcing teams in the league to overspend. Pompey tried to compete, won the FA cup and are now in trouble. Arsenal is widely derided for not spending enough by pundits that ignore the basic economics.

    Others that try to live within their means come close but have not won anything recently e.g. Arsenal.

    The Premier league is now severely uncompetitive. Man Utd will probably win it 4 times in a row. Even Chelsea with their squad are struggling..what hope for the rest.

    The reason for ManUtd success is CASH+HISTORY+GOOD MGT. History brings a youth set up and stability. Man utd can cherry pick the best of British talent because of their history, stability and cash (eg Rooney, Carrick, Smalling, Rodwell(?) and so the cycle goes on. Man Utd and Chelsea need more competition for the good of the Premier league.

    So the playoff for 4th may solve one problem but makes another worse... If introduced then introduce it for all of the top 4 spots perhaps...

    The FA cup by the way is a bit of a joke when Chelsea get so many home games against poor competition and so if wound into this would have to change its format.

  • Comment number 85.

    "Nothing to do with money is suppose. Why not play the matches in the USA and Far East."

    they already tried that, remember the famous 'international round'?

    i'm sorry but this is beyond a joke and would only be considered in england. last season fulham finished 7th and could easily fluke their way into the CL. please don't say fulham could become a top club if they made the CL for 1 season, it won't happen. they wouldn't make it out the group stage and that cash would buy what, 1 CL quality player?

    what happens if team A finishes 18 points above team B then loses to a lucky deflection in a play off game?

    you just can't make it up.

  • Comment number 86.

    I have always thought that this kind of idea should be extended to the promotion and relegation places.
    The bottom two clubs in each division should be replaced by the top two teams in the division below but the team that finishes third from the bottom should compete in the play-offs against the teams which finish 3rd, 4th and 5th in the lower division.
    This would reduce the likelihood of a team being relegated and replaced by a far inferior team which may have finished no better than 6th in its division.

  • Comment number 87.

    The 'champions' league is already a travesty. A private competition of the biggest clubs of the biggest countries. They get richer and richer and plunder all talent. The champion of Belgium (a proper football-nation who have a good generation at the moment) has to play preliminary rounds while the number four of England automatically qualifies... With Belgian players in their team.
    The big money doesn't only make the English competition a joke (same old teams on top) but 'European' football as well.

  • Comment number 88.

    A premier league vote on the idea would be slightly biased. Quite obviously the current top four teams (including liverpool despite a poor season) would vote against and all the other clubs would vote for. Let's be honest it is currently their best chance of getting into the champion's league. I am a firm believer that teams should be rewarded for consistency not a couple of matches right at the end of the season. If the 'top four' are our best teams, then they should represent us in the champions league. I don't think it will help to bridge the gap, because the only way to do that in the current football climate is to aquire a billionaire owner, a la Man City.

  • Comment number 89.

    Chelsea have had an easy run in the FA Cup but it is not always so. Look at the results this year. Man U lost to a side 2 divisions below them. Drawing a top side away from home is a great boost to players who may never play in a major stadium. The FA Cup has a magical aspect that gives ALL teams a chance to dream.
    Non-league teams like Weymouth, Tooting & Mitcham and Yeovil (before league status) all had good runs that boosted their finances and football in their areas.

  • Comment number 90.

    There isn't really a bridge in quality between 4th and 7th these days anyway. Imagine what a difference the extra Champions League cash could do to big, famous clubs like Aston Villa or Tottenham who aren't riddled with debt like the big 4 clubs (excluding Arsenal).

    Couldn't go any worse than Liverpool did this year.

    A few years of Exposure would lead to drawing bigger players, and could in turn see these teams pushing for 3rd, 2nd and first oneday.

  • Comment number 91.

    'It would make the premiership so much more competitive.'

    I'm not convinced that a play-off would generate much excitement or make it more competitive in the final 8 to 10 games or so of the league season. There cannot be many people who would back B'ham, Everton or Fulham to break into the top 7 this season - look at the league table. There is a big points gap between 3rd and 4th, and a gap between 4th and 8th. In a sense, 2 of the clubs at least would be 'treading water' for a number of games. I.e You're not going to finish 3rd, and you're not going to finish lower than 7th, if you know what I mean.

  • Comment number 92.

    I thought this would be more popular than it seems to be. Knock-outs in football are always entertaining. International competitions and the CL use a mixture of group and knock-out to decide the best teams. I don't think people should care about the number of points a team has for anything but deciding the Champion over the course of the season, if they're fourth it is a shame if they lose out but they haven't got close to winning the league, they haven't even got a runner-up spot, so why should they get rewarded? As for the seventh team qualification scenario, if they have the bottle to beat the teams above them then why shouldn't they go to the CL? I'd rather a team which knows how to attack and beat quality sides goes than a team which has perfected the routine of drumming out boring 1-0s against low league sides over the course of a season. You'll need a team with bottle in a knock-out competition if you want to advance in the CL. As for it compromising the quality of the representation the EPL would send to the CL, if you look at the level of some of the unseeded teams from leagues outside of Italy and Spain which qualify, you'd be hard pressed to argue that a lot of them are better than the teams which finish in our top seven most seasons.

  • Comment number 93.

    At 7:48pm on 15 Feb 2010, Forrest_Gump wrote:

    what football needs is:

    I totally disagree about copying the NFL. The football league system has been in place for many years and all owners and boards know what they're dealing with.


    I can't see a 4th place playoff benefiting anyone. The top four deserve the champions league spots as the best sides in England, and therefore the best representatives in Europe's elite competition. All this idea will do is cause disappointment for the 5th-7th place clubs, if they can't qualify for the main draw having won a play-off, and would be disappointing for the fourth placed club who may be positioned to do rather better had they played it.

    The other argument is that it would be exciting for the fans and that's what it should be all about.

  • Comment number 94.

    There isn't really a bridge in quality between 4th and 7th these days anyway. ''Imagine what a difference the extra Champions League cash could do to big, famous clubs like Aston Villa or Tottenham who aren't riddled with debt like the big 4 clubs (excluding Arsenal).

    Couldn't go any worse than Liverpool did this year.

    A few years of Exposure would lead to drawing bigger players, and could in turn see these teams pushing for 3rd, 2nd and first oneday.''

    The problem is that it won't be the same clubs every year finishing 4th to 7th, and even if it was, it surely wouldn't be the same club winning the play-off every year? So you are left with the possibility of a club having a cash injection every few years, what difference will this make? Very little - l ook at Newcastle, they were in it a couple of times, look at Leeds. And in Scotland you have Celtic and Rangers.

  • Comment number 95.

    "think what you like about american football. most football supporters seem pretty xenephobic about the sport, but the NFL has a setup that is light years ahead of football."

    How so exactly?

    By having each club a franchise so should a club be unsuccesful for a couple of seasons they can up sticks and move to a different city?

    By having no threat of relegation for a team which is playing badly? Add to that the beauty of promotion, so even a side in the second division can have their day of glory by being promoted?

    By providing no semi professional side the chance to make it to the big time like Wimbledon (previously) & Hull done?

    Not for me thanks. The American system works because their main recruits are youngsters straight out of college. There is nothing comparable here or in europe to make that happen. You would have to implement that worldwide for it to happen. The last time the wage cap was in place, the best players int he world went to Colombia because they weren't registered with FIFA - not nobodies either, De Stefano went there!

    Plus what regions would you draw the UK into? You do realise the reason they have regional divisions is the sheer size of the country - Florida is bigger than England!

    Personally, I think UEFA should implement a rule whereby every country which gets 2 or more slots in the CL must give one to the domestic cup winners. If the winner also won the league (or got through to the CL by finishing 2nd), the slot should go to the losing finalist. Only if both finalists qualify by virtue of their league position should the slot go back to the league.

    I used to love watching the cup winners cup, they will never bring it back. Every major footballing country is experiencing problems with their domestic cup competitions, this would revive it big time.

  • Comment number 96.

    The problem with this idea is that the 4th spot isn't actually that much of a reward as the qualifying games are harder for the CL from that position. It seems insensible to add another 3 or 4 games to the calendar as the team that wins will be given a full schedule in the summer also, leading to the event that clubs may win this playoff but not eventually get into the CL anyway.

    If you stuck with this idea the only way I could see it would work is if you extended it to the 3rd position so at least the winners would be guaranteed a spot in the CL group stages. So that'd be from 3rd to 7th. I'd also in that case make it a mini-league instead of a cup format.

    However, the way I'd actually divide things is the following:
    1. Give the 4th Champions League spot to the FA Cup winners.

    2. I'd then take away the Europa Cup spot from the Carling Cup winners and put that into the league.

    3. To give a boost to the Carling Cup I'd make it an Anglo-Scottish cup where clubs from across the border are put into the draw. This should then compensate the clubs in this cup through heightened interest and TV revenue, and would hopefully also placate the Rangers/Celtic wanting to join the Premier League issue.

  • Comment number 97.

    Places 4 5 and 6 plus FA Cup winners play off. 6 v FACW , 4v 5. If FACW finish 4 5 or 6 they get bye and lowest placed of other 3 drop out. Winner of remaining 2 play FACW for ECL place. If FACW finish 1 2 or 3 then 4 5 6 7 play off. One legged matches in semis. FACW play at home. So do higher placed of other two.

  • Comment number 98.

    Sorry if someone has already mentioned this but I think 1st and 2nd should qualify automatically. The winners of the Carling Cup and the FA Cup should get the other two places. That would cease any talk of the domestic cup competitions being degraded. It may also encourage Mr Wenger to actually try to win a trophy rather than just settling for 3rd or 4th.

    It's interesting that they keep trying to level the playing field. But Arsenal, Man Utd and Liverpool are teams that have built themselves up to be big clubs. And they haven't just done it over the Premier League years. They've built a solid club on a solid foundation over the course of a century or more. Mr millionaire at City could've bought AFC Wimbledon, built them a fantastic stadium and bought them the best players and over five to ten years got them to the top of the PL. That would've been a more interesting story.

    Sorry went off on a tangent then. Guess i'm just trying to encourage teams to try to be the best rather than just settle for a mid table finish and a CL play-off.

  • Comment number 99.

    Maybe I'm missing something here. Is there not a competition for 5th, 6th and 7th called the UEFA cup. Did 2 English clubs not field weakend sides last season rather than progress, chasing the top 4 (unsucessfully). Are these clubs below the top 4, too good for this UEFA cup, they would rather shun it? When did an English club last win it ? What happened to progression. Every club wants to be with the big boys and if they cant afford it, now they want to win the lottery. If this happens its a farce, and money is the be all and end all. Greedy players, greedy clubs, greedy chairmen, and greedy Premier league. Wonder if Leeds supporters would swap a few seasons in Champions League to be still in the Premier.

  • Comment number 100.

    Seems farcical at first but might actually be a good idea.

    The playoffs in the championship are pretty much accepted these days and if this system was implemented in the EPL then im sure it too would be considered the norm. i.e when the benefits of it begin to bloom.

    At the moment, Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Man Utd have monopolised the CL cash which could amount to 30 to 60 million depending on how far they go.

    That money has meant no club out the top 4 has had a realistic chance of the title never mind get into the champions league.

    The only reason its became more competitive now is by default. The economic crisis and the huge boom of sugar daddy chairmen willing to spend ridiculous amounts of money.

    But as we have seen with Portsmouth, Newcastle and Leeds that is not a sustainable way to go and really puts the clubs future in doubt.

    So if the money was more evenly shared out thru a system like this. In 5 years you might see a team outside Man Utd and Chelsea win the league without the need to run up huge debts.

    Meaning the EPL becomes even more attractive and maybe even a profitable business for a change.


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