Premier League: Will Potential Arsenal vs. Chelsea Playoff Signal a 39th Game?

Ian RodgersChief Writer IVApril 6, 2017

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 20:  Fernando Torres of Chelsea challenges Aaron Ramsey of Arsenal during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on January 20, 2013 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Clive Rose/Getty Images

Do you remember that (frankly ludicrous) idea the Premier League came up with in 2008 surrounding a 39th game?

The notion behind the extended season was to expand the name of the brand by playing a game in countries across the globe, as reported by the Daily Telegraph.

The Premier League on tour received what can be regarded diplomatically as a mixed reaction from supporters while Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson declared it "impossible" in an interview reported by CNN.

However, then Blackburn Rovers boss Sam Allardyce, who is now in charge at West Ham, called for the 39th game to be put back on the agenda in an interview with The Sun in 2010.

The Football Association, though, rejected plans to play matches abroad, as BBC Sport reported, while FIFA also dismissed the idea (via BBC Sport) and the plan slipped out of view.

In May 2010, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore told BBC Radio 5 (via The Guardian) that the adverse reaction of supporters to the 39th game had ensured the proposal would not go ahead.

We understand. We got the hairdryer treatment from public opinion and therefore we kind of backed off it (the 39th game). I don't see it in our sights at all.

Now, however, the Premier League may be about to be gifted an opportunity to resurrect the idea of an extended season.

After Arsenal's 4-1 win over Wigan Athletic on Tuesday night, the Gunners could finish the current season with an identical record to Chelsea.

If Chelsea play out a 0-0 draw with Everton at Stamford Bridge on the final day of the campaign on Sunday, and Arsene Wenger's team win 2-1 at Newcastle, the two London clubs will need to play each other in a playoff to decide who finishes third and fourth in the table, as BBC Sport reported.

The potential playoff game would need to be on neutral territory with Wembley a potential venue.

But the Premier League has never knowingly missed out an opportunity to expand its reach and the seeds generated by this possible playoff will not have gone unnoticed.

The 39th game on foreign soil is unlikely to ever occur, but the chance of extending the season is not a new concept.

When Manchester United were chasing down Newcastle in the race for the 1995-96 Premier League title, tickets were printed in preparation for a playoff between the two clubs at Wembley to decide the destination of the championship.

Ultimately, the Old Trafford side won the title on the last day of the campaign as Kevin Keegan's team stuttered in the final weeks.

But will this potential playoff between Arsenal and Chelsea see the Premier League return to the concept of a 39th game in the near future?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.


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