Would a 4-Team Relegation Improve the Premier League?

John Baines@@bainesyDiego10Correspondent IMay 15, 2013

Should Wigan be one of four?
Should Wigan be one of four?Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

After eight bright and breezy seasons in the Premier League, Wigan Athletic will be playing Championship football next season, 

Tuesday night's 4-1 defeat away to Arsenal confirmed the Latics place in the bottom three alongside Reading and QPR, whilst also ensuring that there's next to nothing to get overly excited about on the final day of the season.

Indeed, in years gone by it has been the action at the wrong end of the table which has provided the most drama, with multiple sides often leapfrogging one another in a desperate jostle for survival.

Unfortunately, there will be none of those shenanigans this weekend, but that is not the reason why I am floating the theory of sending four teams down from the Premier League.

I've long thought that there is too much deadwood floating around the lower reaches of the division; the Premier League would gradually receive a much needed facelift by annually relegating one extra team.

Yet my idea isn't so much a criticism of sides who have rightfully held onto their status up to now, but more of a testament to the Championship and some of the vibrant clubs whose new blood could revitalise the established order.

Reading didn't bring much to the party after gaining promotion last May, but prior to that, Swansea, Southampton, Norwich, Blackpool and Wigan themselves have all made welcome additions to the fold by adding intrigue and interest beyond the familiar names.

Those sides in particular also brought with them some very good players and styles of play. None of them particularly arrived with the sole intention to scrap and scrape to survive and from an aesthetics perspective, the league has a much more friendly footballing feel to it.

At present we know Cardiff and Hull will be gracing the big stage, but aside from them it is unfortunate that either Watford or Crystal Palace will miss out. Gus Poyet's upwardly mobile Brighton and Nigel Pearson's exciting Leicester would also have brought a new dimension.

Speaking as a fan of a club in the Premier League, I would certainly relish a trip to Brighton, Leicester, Watford or Palace next year more so than yet another game against some sides I now view as stale and repetitive.

For example, when Stoke first burst onto the scene in 2008 they were great value and battles with them—especially at the Britannia Stadium—veered from the status quo. Their methodology may not have suited everyone, but I quite liked their bullish bravado, they way they ruffled feathers and set about the big boys with no fear.

Now they're just the same but even less appealing and I think their negative intent to blunt any game stagnates too many contests.

Will Stoke be any different next year? Will Tony Pulis suddenly release the shackles and have his team play in an open and attractive manner like one of the unbeaten playoff finalists, Brighton or Leicester would do? I doubt it.

But it's unfair to single out the Potters. Paolo Di Canio might bring some fireworks to Sunderland, but they're just as bland, and Fulham will again just mill around inoffensively.

It's also worth noting that in the last three seasons, the side who has finished fourth bottom—Hull, West Ham, Wolves and QPR—went down the following year anyway, only prolonging their existence by another season before being counted out.

On the flip side, there is an increasingly high survival rate of those coming up and only three of the last 12 sides promoted have gone straight back down again.

A four team relegation would also make more games relevant for a longer period of time across the duration of the season.

Many sides have packed up for their summer holidays and gone through the motions in the past few weeks, knowing they are pretty much safe.

However, under my concept any one of Sunderland, Aston Villa, Fulham, Southampton, Newcastle, Norwich and Stoke could feasibly be in the Championship by Monday.

That looming threat of the dreaded drop should mean that there are less dead rubbers taking place in the latter stages of campaigns, elongating the competitiveness of the season and potentially having an effect on various places throughout the table.

The four up, four down system could also help reduce the gaping financial chasm between the Premier league and the rest of the English football pyramid.

As of next season there will be three new recipients of the massive Premier League cash bonanza, so why not make it four? Why not share the wealth between as many clubs as possible? For the greater good of the game in this country, would the money going to whoever finishes fourth bottom not be better spent going to one of the unlucky few who narrowly failed to reach the top table?

The whole plot is muddied by parachute payments and the like, but the bottom line would be that each season one more club—usually one who have never been privy to the windfall—would receive their share of the honey pot, with the overall riches generated by the Premier League accessed by more rather than less.

Detractors of the idea may suggest that it would encourage clubs outside of the top flight to spend recklessly in an attempt to get there, but is this not already the case in them trying to secure one of three promotion slots? 

History also suggests that the best run clubs—those who build teams and squads to compete annually—do the best anyway, as opposed to those who just write blank cheques.

Norwich and Swansea are testament to this amongst many others, whilst QPR and Reading are not. The onus lies with the people in charge of the clubs to run them properly, both in a footballing sense and a financial one.

To me, there are very few downsides to the proposal and certainly it would be interesting to see how the Premier League and Football League would react to the thought.

In summary, I believe the Premier League would be refreshed by four sides coming up and the Championship strengthened by four clubs of a Premier League background going down.

Financially, more would potentially have access to the mass and that should filter down throughout the leagues.

It makes sense to me, but does it to you?

Would you like to see four teams relegated from the Premier League? Do you think it would make it a stronger and more competitive division?

Let me know your thoughts below, or get hold of me on Twitter @bainesyDiego10


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