Play-off for fourth Champions League spot
Mon 15th Feb 2010 | Club & Country Competitions
The Premier League are reportedly considering introducing a play-off system to decide the fourth and final Champions League place.
The Guardian reports that, while currently the team finishing in fourth goes into the preliminary rounds of the Champions League, the new proposal would involve teams finishing between fourth and seventh playing off for the final spot.
The same four clubs have qualified for the Champions League for the past four seasons, and with Liverpool currently occupying fourth place, the chances are that run will continue this season.
The paper claims that 'Premier League' sources confirmed the proposal had been put forward at the last meeting of all the clubs, at the start of February.
The idea apparently was greeted with great enthusiasm by 16 of the 20 Premier League clubs. No prizes for guessing which four opposed it.
The proposal is still at an early stage, with details such as the format of the play-off yet to be decided, and also when it would fit in to an already crowded schedule.
The play-off could take the format of the current Football League equivalent, with clubs playing each other in a two-legged semi-final before a Wembley final, or some form of seeding - similar to that employed in rugby league - could be introduced.
It's easy to see why such a proposal would be welcomed by those outside the traditional 'big four', with many believing it is a closed shop, that only the super-rich have a hope of breaking in to.
Such a system - with complicated regulations - was trialled in Holland, but was ended two seasons ago.
It would certainly throw up some interesting clashes, and some hearty disagreements. Last season, for example, Arsenal finished fourth but could have lost out to seventh-placed Fulham, despite a gap of 19 points between the two sides.
Premier League rules state that 14 teams must agree to any rule changes, something that would not be a problem in this case.
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