The Premier League may change how teams qualify for the Champions League by introducing a play-off system with the team that finish 4th to 7th taking part in a knockout competition for the 4th Champions League spot. The proposal has had some support because the four top teams, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool have dominated the Champions League places for the last 4 years.
For the proposal to go ahead 14 or more of the 20 Premier League teams would have to agree that the change would be good for the game and it would be a further 3 years before it could be implemented due to contractual agreements in football coverage deals.
The question is would the change be good for the game? In one camp it is argued that the strong hold over the Premier League by the Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool has become a little boring. The change from the current qualifying system to a play-off round for the 4th spot would improve competition and give the opportunity for more English clubs to take part in Europe’s most prestigious football event. The money involved in the UEFA Champions League is significant and would give teams on the fringes of the top 4th the change to close the gap.
Those that oppose a change in the Champions League qualifying format would argue that the 38 Premier League games in a season should be the fairest way of deciding who should get the opportunity to represent the country on the European stage. Furthermore, the success of English teams in the Champions League is a barometer of the quality and strength of the English game. Surely a knockout system would only serve to benefit teams that were unable to make it to the Premier League top 4. In the last few years Premier League teams have dominated European football, in both the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Europa League. Why would the Premier League want to change the qualification format to the detriment of English football’s reputation?
What do you think needs to be done to level the playing field for football teams not in the top 4? Do you agree with the proposal to change the Champions League qualification format or do you think it would be bad for the game and the reputation of English football?