The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP PREVIEWS -

I AM cer­tain no­body in foot­ball doubts the play-off sys­tem. If any­body does, then just point them to the League Two ta­ble at 5pm yes­ter­day. Go­ing into the fi­nal round of games, Mans­field, in 12th place, could still win and reach the play-offs. The play-offs have that ca­pac­ity – the abil­ity to ex­tend the in­ter­est of foot­ball sup­port­ers in games way be­yond the point at which a sea­son would be dead for many if the au­to­matic pro­mo­tion struc­ture had re­mained in place. Yes, there will be the odd club that achieves a pro­mo­tion that it didn’t re­ally de­serve. But in the main there is an over­whelm­ing sense of ne­ces­sity about the struc­ture. How­ever, I do think things could pos­si­bly be en­hanced. Firstly, I be­lieve the pre-fi­nal games should be sin­gle leg games, loaded to­wards the higher-placed clubs. Se­condly, I think the higher-placed rel­e­gated clubs should join the party. And third, I’d like to see the num­bers ex­tended. So, take League One: the 3rd and 4th bot­tom Cham­pi­onship Clubs (CC1 and CC2) would join clubs 3-8 in League One in four quar­ter-fi­nals. CC1 plays 8; CC2 plays 7; 3 plays 6; 4 plays 5. Win­ner 1 plays win­ner 4. Win­ner 2 plays win­ner 3. Then the Fi­nal. This ap­proach would de­velop in­ter­est even fur­ther, elim­i­nate the many bor­ing first leg games, and keep both ends of a league alive for longer. We may even reach a point where ev­ery team in a league is in­volved in a fi­nal day game in which pro­mo­tion or rel­e­ga­tion is a pos­si­bil­ity for both clubs?!

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

TOUGH BAT­TLE: Brad­ford’s Ro­main Vincelot falls un­der the chal­lenge of Fleetwood’s Kyle Dempsey in Thurs­day’s tight play­off semi-fi­nal first leg

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