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Premier League ponders play-offs for Champions League

The Champions League trophy, left
The top four teams in England have been the same for four seasons

The Premier League is considering a proposal to introduce a play-off for the fourth Champions League place.

The top four currently enter the tournament but the new idea would mean the teams from fourth to seventh playing in a mini-knockout competition.

Any change would need the agreement of at least 14 of the 20 top flight clubs, but there will be no changes for three years as the next TV deal is in place.

Everton boss David Moyes said the idea "was something worth looking at".

But the Scot warned against the dangers of making too many changes to the traditional structure of the sport in England.

"I always think your league position is judged over all the games and where you finish is where you finish," said Moyes, whose side have finished in the top seven in five of the last seven seasons.

"So to give a team that finishes three or four places down the table could be a little bit unfair.

"Nevertheless, the Championship play-offs for promotion into the Premier League have worked very well so it might be something worth looking at.


"However, I do not know if the teams would be madly interested in another three, four or five games at the end of the season. I think it's not a bad idea.

"You have to make sure that you're not tinkering too much. Before you know it, will finishing seventh or eighth be considered really good success? It shouldn't do - it should be a good season but enough to maybe make you the fourth best team in England.

"I am for it in some ways, and against it in others."

BBC sports news correspondent Gordon Farquhar said the Premier League has been presented with "a number of ideas for altering the competition's format".

The move is widely thought to be seen as a way of increasing competition in the Premier League because Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal have filled the top four positions in five out of the past six seasons.

The proposal was raised at a meeting of all 20 clubs on 4 February and will be considered again when they next meet in April.

The top four in the Premier League is the same so far this season, although Manchester City, Tottenham and Aston Villa are putting concerted pressure on Liverpool, who are fourth.

Two years ago the Premier League was widely condemned for a proposal to play a 39th game of the domestic season in Asia.

The Football Association, the sport's world governing body Fifa and European body Uefa all rejected the idea and the Football Supporters' Federation (FSF) condemned the proposal as being motivated by money, dubbing it Game 39.

A similar system to the idea of play-offs was introduced by the Dutch Eredivise in 2005-06, with teams finishing from second to ninth competing for a place in both the Champions League and what was then the Uefa Cup.

That idea was scrapped in 2008 for the Champions League, with teams finishing fifth to eighth now vying for a place in the rebranded Europa League.

Versions of the play-off system are also in use in rugby union's Guinness Premiership and rugby league's Super League.

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see also
Ferguson condemns 39th game plan
16 Dec 08 |  Man Utd
Is Premier League world's best?
11 Apr 08 |  Football
Mixed reaction to overseas plan
08 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Does the world want Premier League?
14 Feb 08 |  Premier League
Fifa rejects 39th-game proposal
14 Mar 08 |  Premier League
Top clubs consider overseas games
07 Feb 08 |  Premier League
How to watch Match of the Day
09 Aug 11 |  Match of the Day

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