Gambles’ Rambles: West Ham clearcut enough, but resolve the playoff follies

Not really an end-of-term review, though it starts that way, so the morning after more playoff games seems as good a time as any to throw open the Salut! Sunderland floor once again to Ken Gambles. It also gives readers another chance to stand up for, or slag off, West Ham: my wager is they’ll do better than Reading or Southampton if they go up …

Well,the dust has almost settled on our season as we drift towards the lower middle of the Premiership.

It’s been a fairly anti-climactic ending after we threatened a top half finish for so long.

In yesterday’s Guardian match report, neither Sunderland nor any of the players were actually mentioned, which seemed fair enough given recent displays.

Overall, however, it’s a case of glass half-full for me and I look forward to the summer comings and goings as O’Neill looks to improve the squad. He will certainly be aware of our shortcomings and strengths (as we all are ) and I’ve every confidence that he will get it right.

It’s that time of year for the playoffs which, over the years, have brought us such heartache; consider 1987, 1990, 1998 and 2004.

But despite some initial misgivings about the system I am now hugely in favour as it keeps the season alive, although there should be some fundamental changes to make it fairer.

I know that prior to the season all clubs are aware of the rules, but there is something inherently unfair about a club finishing with a dozen or so points more than another and yet having exactly (well almost) the same chance of gaining promotion. I can vaguely remember in the early years that Wolves finished about 18 points ahead of Aldershot yet lost to them in a two-legged semi-final.

A better system would be as follows:

* The side finishing 3rd would go straight to the Final.

* The 6th team would be away at the 5th for one game only. Extra time would be allowed but no penalties, so the away team would need to win.

* The same would then apply to the winners away at the 4th placed club.

This system would reward the season’s performance, streamline the whole process and, while maintaining the excitement, be much fairer.

And while discussing change, isn’t it about time that it was a case of three up and three down between the Football League and the Conference?

Promoted clubs have shown their mettle over the years and this change would also provide an easier route back for relegated clubs.

Take this season’s Conference play-offs where Wrexham, York, Mansfield and Luton battle it out for one place (owing to Fleetwood’s vastly superior financial position) yet each would be more than capable of sustaining a successful Football League side. Fair enough West Ham, Monsieur Salut may say, but as if to prove my point, Luton have just got through to Wembley despite finishing 17 points behind Wrexham, the team they beat.

To conclude this ramble, I’ll grudgingly admit that the Mags have most surprisingly done very well, but the more astonishing feature is the number of points Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea have contrived to throw away. Let’s hope next weekend sees two of the three clinch Champions League spots.

9 thoughts on “Gambles’ Rambles: West Ham clearcut enough, but resolve the playoff follies”

  1. Ken, of course your suggestion is fairer that the current one, but its not as fair as having no play offs at all. I know we’ve had the play offs a long time now but I’ll never get used to 4th 5th and 6th placed teams being promoted while the 3rd placed team stays put! It’s not right I tells yer!
    As for being mistaken for a Mag, I forgive you, I’ve been called worse things. Wait a minute, no I haven’t, YOU BAS.. .. .. … ;oD

  2. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Premier League sides have more of an infuence ia few years down the line. Threats of breaking away are already starting to materialise as the money factor has huge bearing on relegated clubs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see PL clubs to demand only two teams to go doen automatically which may end up with a compromise involving the play-offs.

    I’m not suggesting this should be the way, I actually like your theory and the logic behind it. If threats of fighting the Football League continue it wouldn’t be outrageous to wonder if the bottom two may go down automatically with a third playing the winner of the Championship play-offs in a winner takes all final in a game at Wembley. I know relegation used to be involved in these games and wouldn’t be surprised to see it re-introduced such is the importnace of Premier League status.

  3. Sorry Jake I did mean ‘them’ not ‘you’.I know you post regularly on the site,but got carried away by the Mag allusion.Surely though the play-off system keeps the season alive and interesting, rather than being all over in March.I agree however that it can be taken too far and in my book Champions are Champions and shouldn’t be involved in a knock-out competition.What are the disadvantages of my suggestion?

  4. Haha thought it was too good to be true. You were being too ironic for your own good.

    Was all ready to start posting recorded average attendances off the season prior to Keegan and everything. I’m a little upset if i’m honest….

  5. Here’s an idea. You take 24 teams, everybody plays everybody else home and away, at the end of the season the final positions will determine who are the best teams. It’s called a league. The play offs are exciting, but unfair, it boils down to a cup competition when the whole idea of a league is to make sure the cream rises to the top. So do we want the best teams promoted? Or do we want excitement? If we want to keep more teams involved until the end of the season then promote and relegate more teams, that is the fair way to do it.
    The system you propose Ken is similar to the one used in Rugby League, please god we don’t ever go the whole way and decide the championship with play offs, as they do in Super League.
    Oh by the way Ken and Goldy, you’ve grabbed the wrong end of a very large stick when you assumed I’m a Mag. HOW DARE YOU!! Hahaha I’m a Mackem born and bred, I hope your quest for a Mag with a sense of humour continues, cos you ain’t found it here.

  6. Yes Jake,but under my system we would have probably beaten you at Wembley (Gates and Gabbiadini )How good that would have been.

  7. I’ve always thought the play off system unfair. Consider this unlikely scenario. Your team finishes third, your fiercest local rivals finish six points behind in sixth. Somehow they beat you in the semi final and go on to Wembley. In the final they are beaten, but due to the winners being guilty of financial irregularities, and despite your protests, your rivals are promoted. That would be a travesty of justice wouldn’t it? Oh, wait a min…

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