Wake up, Premier League: Bring on end-of-season play-offs to decide the title-winner


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The Independent Online

The Premier League season has finally staggered to a close, the inevitability of Chelsea winning the title becoming obvious when there was still a long way to go. That only the richest clubs can compete for the top spot is a long-established reality which it’s impossible to see changing, and you don’t have to be a neutral observer to have found the unfolding non-drama of the past few months less than thrilling.

Is it time to shake things up a bit? The Premier League’s rugby union equivalent arrives at its champion club rather differently. The top four at the end of the Aviva Premiership’s regular season go into play-offs comprising two semi-finals and a final. And, as it turns out, the team that ended up top of the league this year – Northampton – won’t be featuring in next Saturday’s final, which will see the club that finished second in the table – Bath – take on the one that finished fourth, Saracens.

Chelsea fans will be appalled by the idea. To finish top after nine months of hard slog has always been regarded as the supreme achievement in club football. But play-offs would spice things up no end and guarantee end-of-season excitement that, with notable exceptions such as Manchester City’s last-gasp title victory in 2012, is generally lacking. This year, the play-offs would feature Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal, and Manchester United. Bring ’em on!