« on: April 15, 2012, 02:15:12 PM »
Looking at today's league table with 4 points separating 8 teams who have nothing to play for beyond £ for extra finishing positions, it got me thinking about how to improve the Premiership to provide more interest for those of us who cannot compete with the spending power of the top clubs.
So, using the "handicap" idea used by some of the bookmakers, I've come up with a concept which would, in my view, be fantastic for most of the Premiership clubs, without in any way compromising the Premiership.
Bear with me...
£10m of extra prize money to be put up, funded by selling off the global TV rights to the play-offs described below. £5m to the winner, £2.5m for the runners-up, £1.5m for third place and £1m for fourth. Possible European places as well if other countries followed the same format.
How does it work?
Based on the previous season's league table, a handicap points system is used. "Par" is the points scored by last season's 10th/11th placed mid-table teams which just happens to be us and Stoke with 47 points each. So 47 is par.
We then exclude the top 5 from last season on the basis they qualified for Europe based on their finishing positions. The three promoted teams are deemed to have 1 point less than the team which stayed up in 17th place. We end up with an opening league table for this current season as follows, based on the finishing points last season relative to the team which finished in 6th place last season (Liverpool with 58 points):
West Brom +11
Aston Villa +10
If we then apply the above handicaps to this current season's table (to retain integrity results against the big 5 clubs must be included), then the current handicap league table would be:
Newcastle 33 71
Norwich 34 62
Swansea 34 61
Sunderland 34 54
Stoke 33 54
West Brom 34 53
Fulham 33 52
Everton 33 51
QPR 34 50
Wigan 33 47
Liverpool 33 46
Aston Villa 32 45
Blackburn 34 43
Bolton 32 41
Wolves 34 41
So, going into the last 4/5 games of the season with around 12/15 points still to play for, Newcastle are guaranteed to qualify for the play-offs and Norwich and Swansea are nearly there, barring a disastrous last month. No coincidence of course - these are the three clubs who have "exceeded expectations" this season. We then have a fantastic battle for the 4th place between Sunderland, Stoke, ourselves, Fulham, Everton and QPR, with others not necessarily out of it if they finish with a flourish.
The idea would be that the top 4 in the handicap go through to a 3-match round robin phase, playing each other once over a week at the end of the season (weekend/midweek/weekend), with the top 2 playing off for 1st/2nd place and the other two for 3rd/4th place. It would add 10-14 days on to the season for those 4 teams, but they are playing for up to £5m of prize money (and are guaranteed £1m).
It would in my view provide massive extra interest in the Premiership beyond the top 5 and those fighting relegation, and every single game would have added importance. The mid-table clubs would have something fantastic to aim for.
I am struggling to think of any downsides and if other European countries did the same to get around the boredom of their leagues only realistically able to be won by 2 or 3 clubs, then a European competition could result for the winners/top two in the following season.
Something needs to be done to freshen up the Premiership and to give clubs like ours something realistic and attractive to aim for.