European Champions League qualifications for the English clubs are going to get a lot tougher and tougher and tougher.
The Premier League is considering introducing a playoff system to determine the fourth club eligible to play for the following season's Champions League. The Premier League has launched a proposal that clubs finishing between fourth and seventh could face a playoff.
It's believed this proposal is supported by all the Premier League clubs except the so-called big four of Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Manchester United.
The new system is presented to give the medium-sized clubs a better chance, or a new ray of hope, to challenge for Champions League football. The current format doesn't allow the medium-sized clubs with any reasonable chance to compete for a Champions League spot, but if the new system is introduced these smaller clubs are expected to challenge with greater enthusiasm, as it would go down to the wire with a more realistic chance of finishing in the top seven rather than the more difficult top four.
The top three teams can directly qualify, but the team finishing fourth is going to suffer. It would be forced to play more games at the end of the season, instead of winning direct qualification. After qualifying via playoffs, the preseason Champions League qualification round would make it more hectic. As a result, the summer break would be trimmed, considerably.
But, if you look at it with positivity, you could easily sense the financial benefits. The playoffs are likely to be played at Wembley stadium, and the clubs participating in the playoffs could earn some serious money. In short, the medium-sized clubs would get a financial boost as well as a chance to play in the Champions League (if they qualify), which isn't as possible within the current format of the Premier League.
Sir Alex Ferguson is reportedly annoyed with the playoff proposal and has already expressed his displeasure about the new idea. Teams like Arsenal and Liverpool are expected to be more and more steamed as they are the ones often finishing at fourth.
Self-interest is forcing the top sides to object. They are qualifying on merit and are reaping the rewards of playing in the Champions League over several years.
But, if it's the case of encouraging competition and improving the financial status, then the new system would undoubtedly improve the standard of the Premier League, which is already the best in the World.
One might argue that England's top-most league is less open with competition only between the big four teams, and rightly so. More teams competing for the same cause would make it a lot more difficult and interesting affair.
The playoffs would make the League a lot more lively and competitive even in the later stages of the season. By chance, if a big team fails to finish in the top four, it would still get a chance to rectify its mistakes and qualify through the play-offs. But, again what will happen to the team finishing at fourth if it fails to qualify via playoff?
On the other hand, Liverpool's Champions League hopes are set to ignite again with the implementation of playoffs. I wonder what role Liverpool have got in raising this idea of play-off, especially when The Reds' claim to the fourth place is being seriously questioned. It's all mystery or sheer coincidence.
The readers are requested to let your feelings be known. Furthermore, Is this the beginning of the end of "BIG 4" domination?