CL playoff under consideration
The Premier League are believed to be considering a proposal to introduce a playoff for the fourth Champions League spot.
Currently the teams finishing in the top four positions are handed entry to Europe’s elite competition, either in the main draw or at the qualifying stage.
Now it has been proposed that only the first three be decided on league position and the fourth place be determined by a playoff.
That could mean the teams finishing in the positions fourth to seventh playing a mini-knockout competition.
Such a move would be seen as a measure to inject more competition into the league.
The same four clubs – Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea – have filled the top four positions in five of the past six seasons. Only Everton, in 2005, have broken their stranglehold.
The proposal is thought to have been raised at a recent meeting of all 20 clubs and will be considered again when they next meet in April.
The Premier League have not commented directly on the matter.
A spokesman said: "We look at all sorts of ideas and rarely make comment until we have decided something definitely."
If the proposal was to be voted on at any stage in the future, a 14-6 majority could be enough to see it implemented.
The idea may not be favoured by the established ‘big four’, who would obviously have the most to lose, but the idea is thought to have been enthusiastically greeted by some clubs.
Interestingly, the proposal has been raised at a time when Liverpool’s place in the top four is coming under serious competition anyway from the likes of Manchester City, Aston Villa and Tottenham.
Nevertheless such an idea would keep interest in the season, even for clubs in mid-table, going for longer.
There are other factors which would have to be considered, however, such as how the playoffs might lengthen the season and how they could be fitted into the calendar. Determining Europa League qualification is an added complication.
A satisfactory format would also have to be devised. Some might argue a Football League-style home and away play-off might not be appropriate to settle what is basically fourth place.
One spin-off effect could be that the matches fill the void left by the failure of the ‘Game 39’ proposal, and they would certainly generate television interest.
But again, it would have to be decided if that was appropriate for a lesser prize.