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Wanted: Premier League finals series

Nathan Beuman Roar Guru

By Nathan Beuman, Nathan Beuman is a Roar Guru

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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.

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    The Crowd Says (9)

    • December 1st 2012 @ 7:00am
      MV Dave said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:00am | ! Report

      The reason they don’t have/ need a finals system is because they have promotion/relegation which keeps the bottom half of the table very much on their toes. The prospect of playing European Football keeps the top half of the table striving for wins/points. The top 4 play UCL the next season a much greater carrot than having the chance to play ‘finals’ at the end of the season.
      The other problem would be where to fit the extra games? The calendar is completely full to overflow now…plus every 2 years add the Euros or World Cup to be squeezed in or in odd years qualifiers for those competitions.
      EPL is running at near record attendances again this season with unprecedented worldwide appeal…they don’t need any foreign gimmicks to ‘fix’ something that ain’t broke.

      • Roar Guru

        December 1st 2012 @ 7:21am
        Cappuccino said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:21am | ! Report

        This is exactly right- even in the latter stages of the season, all 20 teams are working to a goal: avoiding relegation, qualifying for Europe, or winning the title. The FA Cup and the CapitalOne Cup also provide knock-out entertainment aside from the league itself.

        • Roar Guru

          December 1st 2012 @ 8:25am
          Nathan Beuman said | December 1st 2012 @ 8:25am | ! Report

          I understand that teams are aiming to move onto the Champions and Europa League, but that still doesn’t mean you don’t have a playoff. So you are completely happy with knowing pre-season that there are only 3-4 teams that have any shot at willing the Premier League?

          You could cut out 4 weeks, then run the playoffs over this time. I said I understand that the competition is massively popular worldwide, but you can always improve it. As I said, maybe I’m way off, but I just thought that it would bring a lot more excitement to the Premier League. How is any team other then City, United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal ever going to have a chance of winning it?

    • December 1st 2012 @ 7:14am
      Punter said | December 1st 2012 @ 7:14am | ! Report

      Football has final series, the various local clubs competitions like the FA cup & League cup, not to mention the champions League for the better teams. then there is the world cup & Euros etc. Some players are playing 60-70 games a year already.
      No, I understand why there is a need for finals in the AFL, NRL & even the A-League, there is no ‘Other’ cups to play for, no promotion/relegation to worry about & apart from the A-League no prospect of international club competition.

    • December 1st 2012 @ 8:48am
      TC said | December 1st 2012 @ 8:48am | ! Report


      I can’t help thinking you will get a bit of opposition over the sentiments expressed in this article.

      The majority will be Australians, so their opinion has no greater weight than yours.

      But for the English soccer fan, with the knowledge that this system goes back almost 150 years, then they should be rightly miffed at someone outside of the fold attempting to diminish their game.

      At the end of the day, they follow a very successful and long-lived competition, and there is no greater arbiter than that.

      The major Winter codes in Australia do it differently, and that’s great – we don’t want everyone doing the same thing – each sport needs to work it out for itself, and then it’s up to the fan base to judge (where there is a fanbase).


      • Roar Guru

        December 1st 2012 @ 9:09am
        Nathan Beuman said | December 1st 2012 @ 9:09am | ! Report

        Yeah I’ve quickly realised that. I am not trying to diminish the game. I can’t stand soccer, but thats my problem. I have no issue with other people like it. I do however have a problem with the lack of a playoff.

        Obviously I’m looking from the outside in. Everyone who has commented are obviously avid soccer supports and good on them. They are fine with the current system because they don’t really know any other way.

        I just think that a playoff system would bring a lot more excitement to the sport. But it seems that everyone who has written is happy knowing back before a ball is kicked that one of the Big 4 is going to win the Cup.

        You only have to look at the fact that Manchester United has never placed outside the top 3. Wouldn’t you like to see someone else besides City, United, Liverpool, Chelsea or Arsenal have a shot?

        • December 1st 2012 @ 9:26am
          Titus said | December 1st 2012 @ 9:26am | ! Report

          If you can’t stand soccer, why not just ignore it?

          Personally I hope that Football one day brings the first proper football league to this country. With League and AFL the game as a spectator code is virtually non existant outside of the top flight, while a league like the English Football Leagues has good attendances all the way to the 4th or 5th division. A little club like Swansea or Norwich can play in the topflight, while the same can’t be said for Ballarat, or even Canberra and Tassie in AFL.

          If aussies were in charge of the EPL they would just have two or three teams in each big city with names like The London Tower Guards and the game would all but die out below that.

          • December 1st 2012 @ 9:39am
            Partyhat said | December 1st 2012 @ 9:39am | ! Report

            “Little club like Norwich!”, – we were getting over 20’000 to games a few seasons ago when we were in league one .

        • December 1st 2012 @ 10:15am
          Brick Tamlin of the Pants Party said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:15am | ! Report

          So you can’t stand football but if it had a finals series you would find it more exciting?,nah mate if you don’t get it you never will.

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