Champions League play-off the latest money making scheme
They just can’t leave it alone can they?
Not content with selling foreign TV rights for more than £1 billion, the Premier League are now considering a play-off system for the final Champions League place for the sides finishing 4th to 7th.
The one thing they have got right in the whole idea is the recognition that something needs to be done about the increasing income gap between the Big Four and the rest.
Only Everton have broken the strangle hold in the past seven years, meaning those at the top have got richer and the rest more desperate to catch up.
But in true Premier League style instead of looking to even out the distribution of TV money to increase competition, or maybe even losing a couple of Champions League spots, they have turned to greed to bail them out.
The play-off system is a wonderful way to squeeze through their 39th game idea by proxy. On one hand they can proclaim they are saving the league by opening up the Champions League riches to other clubs, but in reality they are rubbing their hands at the prospect of six to ten extra matches to flog off to the highest bidder.
How long will it be before they propose the play-off games be held abroad, in Singapore, China or the US? Hold on doesn’t that sound familiar?
The majority of the clubs are all for the idea, though unsurprisingly the Big Four are not, they don’t want their cushy Champions League gravy train rudely interrupted by newcomers. Teams like Everton, Spurs and Villa have been knocking on the door for years but have never quite gone the distance. A knockout style system would give them that extra chance.
But should it be that way? Should the team who finished seventh have the chance to play in the Champions League?
Besides, the move isn’t guaranteed to shake things up anyway. The league is still uneven so the odds are the same teams would qualify regardless. The dominance of the Premier League top four is so great it’s unlikely the move would make much difference.
This is not the way to solve the problem. I have always felt a fairer distribution of wealth among the leagues should even things out, while the number of Champions League place should be reduced to two, thereby strengthening the Europa League as well.
This play-off idea is just another cynical way of extracting more cash from fans’ pockets. And, as it’s come in an era of austerity and belt-tightening for everyone, it shows the Premier League hasn’t learned its lesson.
Meanwhile, the latest round of Champions League matches get underway tonight.
Manchester United face Milan tonight and the football odds suggest the Red Devils could scrape a win.