They say if it aint broke, then don’t fix it but I’m going to try and attempt to get my hammer and screwdriver out with the Premier League’s current archaic relegation system. As we all know, over recent years the ‘top four’ has expanded to what is regarded as the ‘big six’ with the fourteen other Premier League clubs struggling to match the elite both on the field of play and financially off it also. Aston Villa manager Alex McLeish has previously stated that clubs such as his own are now struggling to cope in terms of wages and revenue with the new breed of ‘super clubs’ out there. With the ‘big six’ usually near the top end of the table in any order, the rest of the clubs are fairly evenly matched on their day and the competitiveness of the promoted clubs this term serves to suggest that the jump from the Championship to the Premier League isn’t as big as first publicised; simply requiring effort, desire and careful guidance.
So if the jump from tier two to top flight isn’t that big, then why can’t there be a restructuring of the old and historic relegation system? Championship clubs have proved they can cut it in the big time. The bottom three go down at the end of the season. Simple. The worst three teams suffer for their bad form over the endurance of a campaign. But what if the 18th placed Premier League side had to play off with the 3rd placed Championship side in an end of season relegation play off?
The German Bundesliga currently operates with this system and the Dutch Eredivisie negotiates this ruling also, with the slight difference that two top flight teams in Holland have to do battle with two second tier sides instead. Not only would more excitement stem from a one off game but clubs in the Premier League would strive even more to avoid a hazardous one off game, and clubs in the Championship would strive even more to clamber into third position, for a chance to achieve promotion. Perhaps we would see greater competitiveness as a general pattern. The current Championship play-off system is a very exciting one, but you do feel it is a waste of hope and time for the sides that fail to reach the final of it.
It is my opinion that the so-called ‘late surger’ or sixth placed side often has the momentum to topple the sides immediately ahead of them, distorting the points tallies which may be significantly greater for the third, fourth and fifth sides at the end of a campaign. All of the clubs know the pitfalls of the playoffs already, but I think whilst play off glory may be joyous for whoever wins, the other teams’ exploits over a course of a season are cruelly taken away and unrewarded. Therefore, if the third place side hierarchically had to do battle with the 18th placed Premier League side, this type of play off would be far more fair and reasonable.
Of course, if the Premier League were far superior to the Championship then redemption for the 18th placed side would almost be guaranteed and widespread criticism would be received for such a system. However, in a metaphorical ‘relegation play-off game’ it would be an interesting experiment as the lack of morale and heads down nature of the Premier League team verses the hopeful and upbeat nature of the Championship side would make for what could be considered an even and keenly-fought contest. Not only would we gauge a realistic outlook of how close the respective tiers are but we would see a shift in attitude in this country that play-offs can be implemented at the bottom of the table as effectively as they are placed at the top.
Whilst critics may point to the argument that we’d see lesser quality in the Premier League if the Championship side were victorious in the one off game, they only have to be reminded that 18 of the 24 current Championship sides have tasted Premier League action before, and it is the acclaim of managers everywhere that England’s second tier is one of the most competitive and hardest to negotiate.
Last year’s final day in the Premier League was exciting (and gruelling) for the teams involved at the basement of the division, but by implementing a relegation play off there would be a far more systematic element as to how clubs rise and fall. For example if Terry Connor’s Wolves clambered to 18th position from their current position, this could be considered a success and a chance to survive, hence greater excitement and drama surrounding an 18th placed finished as opposed to the swift reality of dropping out of the division at present.
Perhaps these concepts may seem like meddling and tampering with an already astute system, but adopting such a system would spark even more excitement into an already enthralling division, rightly considered the best in the world.
What do you think of this idea? Are we too rigid in this country towards change or should I be taking a lay down? Follow me @ http://twitter.com/Taylor_Will1989