Wanted: Premier League finals series
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No matter how hard I try, I just can’t look past the fact that the English Premier League still refuses to introduce postseason play.
First of all, I would like to say straight off the bat, that although I love my sport and will watch just about anything, unfortunately, you won’t find many late night football games highlighted in my TV guide.
Well, okay, I have been known to watch the first-half of a game every now and then if there are fantasy implications or a multi involved, but I certainly won’t be setting my alarm for 2am to get up and watch Southampton v Queens Park Rangers anytime soon.
Besides the fact that I just can’t bring myself to sit down and watch a game of soccer that could very well end up a nil-all draw, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that the English Premier League still does not have some kind of postseason play.
You would think in a world where everything is driven by the almighty dollar, that both the league and the football clubs would be pushing for the implementation of some sort of finals system.
Maybe I’m way off, but how could introducing a playoff series at the end of the regular season result in anything but positively for the Premier League? Between an increase in revenue, growing media attention and the prospect of a much more competitive competition, what does the League have to lose?
Despite the fact that only 14 of the 38 rounds in season 2012-13 are in the books, third placed Chelsea sits a full two wins behind second placed Manchester City, and a further point back behind Manchester United in first.
Even with well over half of the season still remaining, this is a massive gap for Chelsea to claw back, and although it is by no means impossible, is a enormous task for Rafa Benitez’s men.
How about a team like Liverpool, who currently sit in 12th position on 16 points? What hope do they have of making 10 points on Manchester United before the season comes to a close in mid-May? What motivation is there for their fans to turn up on a weekly basis, knowing that that have absolutely no chance of winning the crown.
I understand that there are Champions and Europa League spots up for grabs for those teams that finish in the top seven, but really, unless you stick within a win or two of first place at the quarter way mark of the season, you can pretty much kiss your Premier League title hopes goodbye.
For arguably one of the biggest and most recognised sporting competitions in the world, I cannot understand why the English Premier League does not have a finals system.
Although I would like to see an eight-team playoff series, even a playoff between the top six teams like the A-League would bring a lot more excitement to the end of season festivities.
How many times have we seen upsets happen during the finals of the NRL or AFL? Especially in a sport like soccer where one goal can get you over the line, a team who finishes the regular season in seventh or eighth place has a shot at knocking off one of the top teams and advancing.
While some people may argue that the Major League Soccer competition in North America is completely different to the EPL because it is made up of two conferences, it still shows the positives in using a playoff system.
The 2012 MLS Cup, which is being played at 8:30am this Sunday on ESPN, will be fought out between two teams, the LA Galaxy and Houston Dynamo, that both failed to even automatically qualify for the playoffs. Los Angeles finished fourth in the West, while Houston placed fifth in the East, having to each win a knockout match before proceeding to the finals, where they both went on to defeat the #1 seeded team.
Again, while the EPL would obviously not be implementing a two conferences format, this year’s MLS playoff series have shown how exciting the postseason can be for everyone involved, even if you have just scraped in by the smallest of margins.
While last year’s 2011-12 Premier League season will go down as one of the most exciting finishes in recent memory, it was a two horse race for most of the season. Third placed Arsenal fell well short of City and United, finishing with a total of 70 points, well behind both teams from Manchester.
The EPL, which is currently in its 21st season, has had a grand total of five champions, with Manchester United lifting the trophy on 12 separate occasions, while finishing either second or third on their other eight outings, showing how incredibly unbalanced the League is.
In pretty much every other competition in the world, while there are obviously favourites, fans can always hold hope that their team can make a run at a title. However, in the English Premier League, unless you have a billionaire owner who is willing to pump hundreds of millions of pounds into your club, sadly, you don’t really have a chance in hell of winning a title.
I am not doubting the success of the English Premier League. It is obvious how popular the competition is worldwide, but I just feel that in order to improve the product, they really need to reassess the need for postseason play.
Is there a legitimate reason why the Premier League refuses to introduce a postseason, or is it just something that they refuse to address? Do you like the current system used by the league, or would you like to see a playoff series brought in, and if so, how would you like to see it formatted?
Editor’s note: Comments are closed on this post. The topic of a finals series in the EPL, or any major league competition, is a worthy debate starter, but further debate has proven unhelpful.
Former Roarer, Jesse Fink, has released a new e-book, World Party, the story of the Socceroos' incredible run at the 2006 World Cup – 15 days every Australian football fan should never forget. Support a fellow Roarer and download a copy today.