It has been reported that the FA are planning on changing the rules on qualifying for the last Champions League place.
The proposal is that the top three will qualify automatically, while the fourth CL slot will be up for grabs in a Premier League play-off played by the teams who finished 4th, 5th,6th and 7th. For some reason, the United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal are not impressed with the FA’s proposals, but the rest of the division are understandably delighted with the idea and we must assume that includes the blues.
If the FA’s proposal went ahead, what would it mean to Europa League qualification? Are the FA seriously saying that a team who finished 7th and win the play-off can play in the Champions League, yet a team that finishes 6th get nothing? It would make a mockery of the national game.
And where would the FA propose these games are played? Wembley? So not only would they be asking fans to pay to watch two extra games home and away but also fork out for a trip to London. Has the FA even considered the supporters during their proposals?
There is something about play-off situations that is just wrong. Yes it might add a bit of excitement and drama at the end of the season but why should a whole season’s work be potentially decided on one game?
We’ve seen it over the years with the divisional play-offs. Teams that finish sixth in the league have not had as good a season as those above them so why are they given an extra chance to win promotion?
Last season in League Two, Bury just missed out on automatic promotion by one goal and had to settle for fourth. Shrewsbury meanwhile, sneaked into the play-offs on the final day of the season and beat the Shakers in the semi final.
It was harsh on Bury who had been consistently good all season, yet they had nothing to show for their efforts while Shrewsbury had a chance for promotion when they didn’t perform half as well. And City almost suffered a worse fate in 1999 when, after finishing third in the league went to Wembley and almost lost to a team that finished below them.
Play-off systems are unfair to those that do well and just miss out and if this system is introduced, any team that finishes fourth will be well and truly hacked off that they have to play additional games to qualify for a competition and potentially finish with nothing.
Some supporters will disagree with this but will feel differently should they finish fourth and end the season with nothing to show for it.
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