League shouldn’t tamper with rules

Trevor Steven
WHEN it comes to the plans to introduce a play-off for the fourth Champions League place, I’m with David Moyes and Rafael Benitez. They are both against plans for the teams who finish from fourth to seventh in the Premier League battling it out for the lucrative spot – and so am I.

Firstly, it does a disservice to the club that, over the course of a 38-game season, has proved itself to be the fourth best in the division, and therefore deserving of competing in the lucrative European showpiece.

The league is meant be a meritocracy. Do we want, for argument’s sake, Tottenham coming seventh but qualifying for the Champions League only to get smashed? That won’t do our domestic game any good, which is the point of these plans.

Those in favour argue that a play-off system, like that used to decide the third promoted team from the Championship, would help other teams get a sniff of the European money, thereby helping to break the dominance of the so-called Big Four – Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool.

But a glance at the table shows that the upper echelons are becoming more fiercely contested anyway, without the need to rewrite the rulebook. Manchester City are currently fourth and stand a great chance of breaking the Big Four’s stranglehold, while Aston Villa are not far away either.

Liverpool, meanwhile, appear to be financially restricted and have suffered as a result, while Arsenal are hardly big spenders either. Even Manchester United and Chelsea are splashing less money these days.

It makes little sense to tamper with the format when the league is more competitive than it has been in years.