The Premier League could soon implement a plan that sees its fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh place finishers contest an end-of-season play-off at Wembley to determine England’s fourth Champions League contestant. At first blush, the plan seems rather appealing as further excitement would be added to season’s end while allowing clubs outside the Big Four the chance to enjoy the financial and athletic splendours of top-flight European competition. Potential downsides include further fixture congestion, dilution of the regular season’s importance, resistance from UEFA and Premier League clubs, and claims that the scheme amounts to an insurance policy should a current member of the Big Four finish outside the top four (we’re looking at you, Liverpool).
Of course, any move by the Premier League to put its fourth Champions League spot up for grabs may be short-lived should English teams fare poorly on the continent going forward as each nation’s allocation of spots is based on continental success. Many long-time supporters will argue that we’ve been headed down this very slippery slope of European dilution since 1992, when the European Cup ceased to be a tournament restricted solely to domestic champions. Personally, I’d like to see only the League Champions and the FA Cup winners guaranteed a place in the Champions League, with any additional spots determined by Wembley play-offs, with the same restrictions applying to other dominant European Leagues (i.e. restricting Spanish access to the La Liga champions, Copa del Rey winners and play-off winners). But what say you? Have at it.