The race for fourth place in the Premier League


It was once the domain of footballs elite. Almost an exclusive pass into the sports equivalent of a top London nightclub and basically if your teams name wasn’t on the list, they were certainly weren’t coming in.

I am talking of course about the position of being able to finish a season as one of the top four in the Premier League, but with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea, and in the last few seasons, Manchester City staking a regular claim for the first 3 places, the race to get that all important 4th spot with the potential carrot of Champions League football being dangled under their nose is one that more and more unfancied sides want a bite of.

With Liverpool and their relationship with the CL now resembling that of an ex-partner still longing for their previous lover after being unceremoniously dumped and soon to be followed by Arsenal as things currently stand, who will finish 4th at the end of 2012-13 is not a bet that I would advise putting on with your local bookies anytime soon.

Now we have a virtual auction for any team that is willing to throw their hat into the ring which makes the PL in one respect much more unpredictable and therefore exciting to watch as unfashionable teams such as Norwich, Swansea and West Ham have shown in the current campaign by humbling Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea respectively.

In the last 2 seasons alone, Newcastle, Tottenham, Everton, and now West Brom have all been vying for right to receive their invite from UEFA next season to dine at Europe’s top table and even with the booby prize of Europa League football (a kind of bitter after taste should you not be quite ready to play with the big boys) many clubs are realizing what financial rewards they can reap especially if they go a long way in the competition.

On the subject of Europe, we would arguably have a much more competitive league in each country should the prize of being able to take part in the CL only be given to the Premier League winners as the format was previously, prior to the change over from the European Cup to its current format in 1992-93. This way each team would have to work that bit harder during the season to enter the competition and we could also avoid being faced with tedious ‘dead rubber’ ties which crop up at the end of each group stage.

With financial rewards being as they are, the competition has come too far to change back and according to certain sources in the news, an actual breakaway league may be on the cards by combining both the CL and Europa League competitions together.

How certain top teams will have the ability to play a full premier league programme plus domestic cups and the addition of a proper European league is anyone’s guess.

Still, I’m sure Sepp and Michel already have that worked out…

Ryan Colley