Pros and cons of Premier League Relegation Playoffs

BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: A dejected Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park on April 2, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, ENGLAND - APRIL 02: A dejected Jack Grealish of Aston Villa during the Barclays Premier League match between Aston Villa and Chelsea at Villa Park on April 2, 2016 in Birmingham, England. (Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images) /

Premier League Relegation Playoffs could be a new exciting way to freshen up the Premier League, while changing very little of the current premises.

Throughout the years of watching Europe’s most exciting league, fans often have suggestions on how to make the English Premier League better. Concerns usually stem from several motives, such as parity issues, competition strength, entertainment value, schedule congestion, European potential, and several other factors.

One of the suggestions that has surfaced is the need for Premier League Relegation Playoffs. This would mean that there would be a more intricate system in place to decide who would be relegated from the Premier League, rather than just the bottom three teams. It would probably be similar to the Championship Promotion Playoffs.

How are the Championship Playoffs are formatted?

At the end of the season, the teams finishing in third to sixth place in the Championship participate in a knockout competition, with the winner joining the top two teams in promotion to the Premier League. The playoffs consist of the third place team playing the sixth place team and the fourth place team playing the fifth place team in a two-legged semi final (home and away). The winners of each semi-final meet in the final, a single match at Wembley Stadium with the winner receiving promotion.

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The concept of Promotion Playoffs dates all the way back to 1987, back when it was the Football League Second Division.

So what would Relegation Playoffs potentially look like in the Premier League?

The bottom four teams would compete in a playoff. The 17th spot would play the 20th and the 18th would play the 19th. It would be a similar format to the Championship in that it would be a two-legged semi-final, with the aggregate winners of each semifinal, playing in a final match at Wembley Stadium. The winner would achieve Premier League survival, while the three losers in the mini-competition would be relegated to the Championship.

What are the Pros of Relegation Playoffs?

Relegation playoffs would affect several of the issues that are mentioned in the opening paragraph.

It would create increased parity between the larger and smaller clubs. Even if the smaller teams could not compete well enough to remain in the division throughout the season, they are given one final shot against clubs of similar ilk to prove their Premier League worth.

Furthermore, it would mean that the team that remains in the Premier League had to prove their strength over three large matches in order to remain in the highest competition. This in theory, would create a much stronger 17th place finisher, because the club would have to fight for their survival.

Entertainment value would be the largest beneficiary of an added competition such as this. It gives a revitalized look at the bottom of the league. It would provide hope to fans who support a club who find themselves in the bottom four. The games at the end of the season would prove to be even more meaningful, rather than coasting toward relegation.

For example, Aston Villa against Chelsea this weekend failed to hold a competitive standard. This is because Aston Villa are all but relegated. However, if Aston Villa had more at stake, perhaps a better seed in the relegation playoffs, it have made this match much more meaningful.

More over, if a brand sponsored the specific competition, it would make even more money, not to mention ticket sales, added TV exposure, and a large appearance at Wembley Stadium. Even if it carried on the Football League’s current sponsor of Sky Bet, it’s still more money for all involved.

Perhaps the money from the tournament could go to the winner of the tournament, allowing them extra funds to reinvest for the next season in the Premier League. This may be the funding they need to put up a better fight in the following season.

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  • Overall, there are many positives as a result of adding Relegation playoffs. It’s overall goal would be to give every club a final chance to stay in the world’s most competitive league, while also keeping all the matches more competitive, adding more motivation worth fighting for.

    However, it wouldn’t affect the top clubs in the league, which would mean they would still have to perform well from day one to be successful. The top teams would still be decided on league place finish, which would hold them accountable over a longer period of time.

    Furthermore, the relegation playoffs would only give one team a chance to stay, a team that would have already remained, according to the current system. It simply adds interest, and makes the 17th spot less safe than before.

    Cons of Premier League Relegation Playoffs

    There aren’t many cons of Relegation playoffs in my opinion.

    One of the largest cons would be scheduling conflicts. The tournament would have to take place after the league ended, which would mean after Championship Sunday. This would most likely provide minor issues for TV deals. It would also not be a sure bet to garner large attendances and viewership.

    However, I believe with so much at stake, it would be a highly watched contest, especially given the lull in between the end of the season, the FA Cup Final and the Champions League Final. There are plenty of places to put the 5 matches required for this competition to work.

    Another issue would obviously come from several Premier League Clubs who count on the 17th place remaining a safe spot. Some would argue that this is more beneficial than having playoffs. However, it should appeal to the masses who cannot guarantee that they won’t find themselves among the bottom three, which would make the playoff option very attractive.

    The final con would probably be very traditionalist, utilizing the classic argument of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, considering a move for Relegation Playoffs, “change for change’s sake”. However, I think it’s clear to see the positives far outweigh the negatives in this case and therefore would be more than just a minor change with no real effect.

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    Personally, I would support a change to Relegation Playoffs. I think the successful model of the Championship Promotion Playoffs can be applied to different models.

    Fans typically enjoy the concept of a league table and the responsibility of performing on the first and last day of the season. However, those that crave a playoff system would be partially appeased by Relegation Playoffs, without disturbing the top clubs and their qualifications for a title and European places.

    It wouldn’t create too much added schedule congestion and it represents real entertainment value. It would also inspire added motivation for the end of the season matches that tend to be drab based on what’s at stake for many of the teams. It wouldn’t solve this issue for middle of the table clubs, but it would still allow the bottom clubs a chance to fight for survival.

    And there’s not much that’s more entertaining than a genuine fight for survival.

    Creating Relegation Playoffs would be a bold move by the Football League and I predict that they would benefit from such a decision.

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    After discussing this concept thoroughly with my friend who is a new supporter of the Premier League, along with strong consideration myself, I am sold that it would be a positive move for the Premier League and the Football League itself.