The Case Against The Play-Offs


Ian began writing Twohundredpercent in May 2006. He lives in Brighton. He has also written for, amongst others, Pitch Invasion, FC Business Magazine, The Score, When Saturday Comes, Stand Against Modern Football and The Football Supporter. Ian was the first winner of the Socrates Award For Not Being Dead Yet at the 2010 NOPA awards for football bloggers.

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14 Responses

  1. Norwood Red says:

    Lincoln City have a worse record in the playoffs than said 3

  2. Rob says:

    Lincoln have the worst streak (losing five in a row), but they have only lost those five. Ipswich, Brentford and Bury have all lost six (Ipswich winning one), and Preston have lost eight out of eight.

  3. Dermot O'Dreary says:

    Perfectly put.

    If we must have this ludicrous end of season bash, and I fear that we’re stuck with them, then surely it’s not beyond those who run our game to come up with some way of rewarding those who finish higher up the league. In five minutes I came up with two possible solutions – both have obvious flaws but are, in my view, better than what we currently have:

    1. Adopt something like the rugby league style play-offs which are designed so that the lower team has to beat all of those above it to win the play-offs. Also the highest place team gets either a second chance or goes straight to the final.

    2. Keep things as they are, but in the event of a drawn match the higher placed team is declared the winner.

    Actually, thinking about it, I’d combine the two.

  4. Chris P says:

    We should do what they do in Italy. If the 3rd placed team is 10 or more points (I think its 10, please correct me if I’m wrong) ahead of the 4th placed team, there are no playoffs, the 3rd team get automatic promotion. If its less, then they have a play off similar to ours.

    While I agree with a lot of this article, I also don’t think a team who finish one point above 4th, or do so based on goal difference can really say they are far and away better than those beneath them.

  5. Rob says:

    So, let’s have a Play-Off for the Premier League title then, as Chelsea clearly haven’t done enough to earn it over 38 games.

  6. Cuccir says:

    Sorry, love the play-offs. Look at the Scottish Divison One, where clubs’ seasons can end in February. As a fan of Barrow AFC, the mid-90s in the Northern Prem were so boring and depressing – as soon as you know you’re not in the top two, there is nothing to play for. Introducing play-offs brings that in.

    Perhaps we need something to balance it out – a rugby league style system whereby you benefit the higher ranked team, or some sort of points+position qualifying system – but don’t scrap them.

  7. Tim Vickerman says:

    I love the Play-Offs. My team (Huddersfield) will be taking part in their 6th, losing in semi finals on 3 occasions and winning promotion twice. We’ve been beaten by teams who finished way below us and beaten teams that finished way above us. All the teams know that finishing between 3rd and 6th (4th and 7th in League 2) gets you a Play-Off spot and not automatic promotion.

    I think a season of reverting to automatic promotion for the top 3 (or 4) would soon reveal exactly what the Play-Offs have brought with numerous ‘dead rubbers’ on the fixture list appearing with as many as half a dozen games to go.

    As for settling things by penalties; isn’t it a part of football? It’s not quite tossing a coin or drawing lots (two older methods of deciding the winners of a football match). Teams should prepare as they do for any other part of a match rather than whingeing about the unfairness of it all. West Germany lost the Euro Championships in 1976 in a penalty shoot-out. Ever since they’ve made a point of deciding their kickers and putting in the practice and have won every one since.

    As for the away goals rule; I think it should be scrapped across the board. The theory that it encourages the away team to be more offensive is nonsense. I think it paralyses the home team with fear and stifles their attacking intent. Away teams tend to be happy to play negatively and hope to ‘nick’ one on the break. The Play-Offs have arguably produced more exciting semi finals since the rule was dropped.

    Bad decisions happen in all matches, be it by players, coaches or officials. Two teams could be battling tooth and nail for promotion going into the final day, Team A could get a dodgy decision that gives them the promotion place ahead of Team B. Whole seasons do come down to fine lines sometimes.

    Just out of interest, how does this kind of system sound:

    Quarter Final (1st leg)
    6th V 5th
    Quarter Final (2nd leg)
    5th V 6th

    Semi Final
    4th V Winner of Quarter Final

    3rd V Winner of Semi Final
    (at Wembley)

  8. Mick says:

    Play offs – been in three finals 1997, 2003 and 2009. Lost every one. Goals for 0 goals against 5. Finished 3 on two of the three occasions. Hate them and hate the way finishing 6th is now somehow worthy of reward. Two up, two down, 3rd and 4th then play-off for the right to meet 3rd bottom in league above as the play-off final.

  9. Jertzee says:

    Never understood or agreed with the play offs. Surely a LEAGUE system should not be decided by a one-off game? What’s the point of playing over a whole season to find the best teams and then ignoring that and playing a knock out?

  10. Rob says:

    Tim: “I think a season of reverting to automatic promotion for the top 3 (or 4) would soon reveal exactly what the Play-Offs have brought with numerous ‘dead rubbers’ on the fixture list appearing with as many as half a dozen games to go.”

    My lot had nothing but ‘dead rubbers’ with five games to go even with the playoffs (each game was meaningless for our opponents too). Maybe we should spend 46 games deciding the 12 teams that go into promotion playoffs and the 12 that go into relegation playoffs, so that every game has some meaning? The World Cup will have games between the third and fourth place teams, where neither can qualify. Maybe we should have a playoff between second and third, just to keep everyone on their toes?

    If you don’t want your team having ‘dead rubbers’ during the season, there’s only one way to avoid it. Win more games. Nottingham Forest should already be promoted, not trapsing around the country playing Blackpool, just because it made our game against Reading on Easter Saturday 1% more interesting.

  11. Damon says:

    Agree with what Chris P said, it’s a good idea. Another option would be that the lower team has to beat the higher team on aggregate. A draw doesn’t result in penalties, it means the higher team hasn’t been beaten so continues into the final or promotion.

    Also, as Danny Baker said on his R5 Saturday show, let’s celebrate dead rubbers. Why not, it’s a league situation, why can’t March arrive with little hope of promotion or relegation? A side effect of more meaningless gams might be more youngsters getting a chance to play rather than being shipped out to lower league clubs for 3 months.

  12. Fred Preston says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. On MOTD, Lee Dixon always says “After 38 games…you finish where you deserve to finish”. With 46 games, it’s even more reliable to assume that the 3rd placed team is overall the third best that season. Injuries, refereeing decisions, sudden gusts of wind: These things even themsleves out(‘swings and roundabouts, innit’): Any football fan can look at a match that ‘we blatantly deserved to win’, and then remember that the other day ‘we’ managed to blag 3 points against a better side. With Play-offs however you’re letting one/two games decide, as opposed to contribute to whether you go up. It’s ludicrous, we shouldn’t put excitement before fairness. You won’t be suprised to know I’m a Forest fan.

  1. May 11, 2010

    […] The case against the play-offs [Two Hundred Percent] […]

  2. May 12, 2010

    […] first division next season. There are those who find all this a little unfair and Rob Freeman made a persuasive case against the concept of play-offs on this site last […]

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