To Playoff or Not to Playoff?

by Sean Farrell

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011
 

In recent days certain parties within the Premier League Batcave have revealed that they considered introducing a playoff for the final champions league spot. Now this, I believe would be a very interesting idea. Imagine the end of season excitement with four teams battling it out for the most coveted of rewards.

For example, if this idea was currently in place. Arsenal would be playing Everton, with Liverpool and Spurs likewise preparing for battle. Now, I know the season is long enough as it is, but in a league where the same few clubs monopolise the Champions League places, this would be a welcome diversion. Not only would the end of season competition for final league positions be increased, but it would also encourage clubs like Everton, Fulham, and Aston Villa to aim for something more than a mid table finish. This would all lead to great end of season excitement a kin to the Championship playoff games, which never fail to capture the imagination and keep even the neutral engrossed.

Now, there are arguments against it. Firstly it would be unfair. Take Arsenal for example this season. They have had a long hard season where they at one point looked like they could really challenge for the league, but faltered on several occasions both home and away. They would argue that they deserve their 4th place and the rewards it brings with it.

However the same argument could be made for those that finish 3rd in the Championship but as the playoff is a long standing ‘institution’ of the lower leagues it is accepted.

Whereas take Liverpool or Everton. Both sides enjoyed improved second half of the season form which saw them climb the table into the would be playoff spots. It could be argued by Arsenal that it is unjust that these clubs could compete for 4th place. Although Liverpool and Everton could suggest on current form they deserve the opportunity.

This argument is of course merely an academic exercise as the bigwigs in the Prem League decided to jettison the idea before they had even set sail. Richard Scudamore suggested that their had been some interest in the idea from clubs, but Arsenal, Man Utd, and Chelsea ‘voiced their opposition’. Presumably these clubs felt they had such a good thing going by never being out of the top four, that one poorish season might see them slip to 4th and by chance the following year may find themselves out of the Champions League.

As a little aside, I do find irony in the fact that when I accidentally hold the shift key and hit the number 4 to type 4th, I get $th place playoff.

Anyway, I think a playoff is an interesting idea but not without its flaws. There are certainly several arguments both for and against such a proposal.

Follow me on Twitter @SeanEPF and @FootieTeasers

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