lee-priceProposed changes to the Premier League structure always make interesting viewing.

Who could forget the ‘brilliant’ plan to host a 39th fixture overseas? Though, realistically, this option is still certainly on the agenda at some point in the future.

Or, Phil Gartside’s plans to split the league into two 18-team leagues, allowing Rangers and Celtic to move south of the border, in footballing terms obviously.

Now we’re faced with the option of a Champions League play-off, on the face of it, a nice idea.

I have to tell you, though, I’m dead against it.

Sure it adds competitiveness to the league, but does it really improve the overall standard? Instead of seeing our clubs dominate Europe’s elite competition, like they have been doing recently for the first time in the Champions League era, we could surrender that position.

If the set-up had been in place last season, we could well have seen Fulham representing our nation rather than Arsenal. I, for one, wouldn’t fancy their chances of progressing through the qualifying process, where Arsenal saw off Steve McClaren’s FC Twente, currently second in the Dutch Eredivisie.

Yes, it’d be ‘nice’ to see other teams mixing it up with Europe’s big boys but we’re not operating a bloody raffle competiton, it’s a meritocracy and, regardless of who finish in the top four, they are worthy of their place in the Champions League.

So if Fulham were to finish fourth this season, I’d back them all the way in Europe. After all, they earned their place. If they got there by virtue of a lottery, however, it’d further take away from a competition that is meant for ‘Champions’. The last time the West London club could boast that tag was when they won the First Division in 2001.

This isn’t an attack at the Cottagers or their supporters, they merely provide an excellent case study of this new plan.

The play-offs bring excellent excitement in the lower division, which is great, but I still think they’re somewhat unfair on the teams that finished ‘top’ of the play-off places. I’d hope that this idea ISN’T implemented – as far as I can see, it’s just another excuse to draw in more television revenue.

Lee Price runs www.football-previews.co.uk

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