By 90Min
April 13, 2018

The end of season play-offs. Something that NFL, Rugby and Football League fans look forward to with a mixed sense of dread and excitement.

Although the Premier League has the race for Champions League qualification to keep all of the top teams interested, some feel that the introduction of a play-off system is a prospect that would cause some cracking end of season drama.

Many fans will hate this idea and there are certainly negatives. No doubt would you be left fuming if your team came top of the league, only to be dumped out in a play-off by the side who came fourth.

However, you cannot argue that a battle between the top four teams for the ultimate crown would be an exhilarating prospect.

The NFL and Rugby Union are two examples of sports where a play-off system is used highly effectively. Fans wait all season in anticipation for the climax and it is often where the most jaw dropping and high drama moments occur.

Football is no stranger to play-off systems either. The EFL uses a play-off system to determine the final promoted side and it is certainly up for debate whether this is a fair and suitable method.

As a fan of a lower league club in Wycombe Wanderers, I can speak from experience when I admit that the play-offs can either be the ultimate heartbreak or the best moment of the year. In 2015, the club missed out on automatic promotion by one point, going into the play-offs as the top ranked team.

Despite reaching a Wembley final, Wycombe conceded an equaliser 14 seconds from time and lost on penalties. 

This is where the debate lies. In theory, Wycombe were the fourth best team that season but fifth placed Southend were promoted at their expense. It could be easily argued that this does not seem right.

In Europe, a variety of different play-off systems are used. For example, in Cyprus the top six teams go into a 'Championship round,' the bottom two are relegated and the teams in-between compete in a 'Relegation round.'

Although you could again argue it would be an exciting end of season climax, finishing seventh out of 14 and still potentially being relegated seems ludicrous. You could argue that this kind of system ruins the whole point of the season.

Many Premier League fans are likely to agree with this. If you take this season as an example, Manchester City are far superior to those vacating the other places in the top four, and if their 'title' was lost down to a couple of games at the end of the season, it would admittedly seem pretty unjust.

There does seem to be another option though. The South African Premiership has the MTN 8 system in place. It is a play-off based system made up of the top eight teams at the close of the Premiership season and they compete in knockout rounds for the championship.

The difference here is that rather than being played at the close season, it is played just before the new season kicks off. This allows the original title winners achievement to be less diminished, whilst also creating greater motivation to finish in the top eight. Some would argue that this system would work better but it would still not create that end of season buzz that the  lower league play-offs in England do.

If play-offs were introduced in the Premier League it would put the top team in a position where they have everything to lose, with the lower placed sides having nothing to lose. 

It is hard to deny that it would be a hugely exciting prospect. It would inject an unrivalled level of hype at the end of the season and create some incredible moments in English football. 

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