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Premier League rejects fourth-place play-offs idea

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

The Premier League has revealed it will not pursue the idea of a play-off for fourth place and the final Champions League place.

At the Premier League board meeting on Thursday, the clubs' chairmen decided against looking into the proposal any further at this stage.

Manchester United, Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal were reportedly quick to voice their opposition.

However, other clubs were keen on the idea in principle.

The idea, which was put forward at last month's meeting, was for automatic Champions League spots to go to the Premier League's top three teams, rather than the top four.

2Pacunited- Only God Can Judge Me

The sides finishing from fourth to seventh would then play in a mini knockout competition.

The proposal drew a mixed reaction from top-flight bosses, with Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez completely against it but Aston Villa boss Martin O'Neill described it as "interesting" and one that "people might go for".

Any change would have also needed the agreement of at least 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs, although there could not have been any changes for three years as the next TV deal is in place.

Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore claimed there was "not enough support" for the proposal.

"The main topic of discussion was the Champions League play-off for that fourth qualifying place," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

We certainly looked at it and the board looked at it but said physically we just can't do it

David Gold

"We gave a lot of discussion, a lot of detail, a lot of data. But there was not enough support to take the idea forward, so we won't be discussing that proposal any further."

However, West Ham chairman David Gold said the idea was scrapped mainly due to time constraints within the football calendar.

"It was just a physical thing, finding time in the calendar," said Gold. "We certainly looked at it and the board looked at it but said physically we just can't do it.

"The clubs that would be involved in a play-off could also be involved in the FA Cup and Champions League, so it just could not be done. They tried but it could not be done.

"It wasn't a question of being unanimous [in opposition to the idea] or not, there was not a date.

"The very top clubs are not keen on it and you can make a case that they are right.

"But there was a feeling in the room that a play-off could make the league more exciting and bring more clubs the possibility of getting into Europe.

"But the Premier League is the most exciting league that the world has ever known and no one is looking to damage that."

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see also
Benitez derides play-off proposal
17 Feb 10 |  Premier League
Euro play-off plan divides bosses
16 Feb 10 |  Premier League
Top flight ponders Euro play-offs
15 Feb 10 |  Premier League

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