Premier League ponder Champions League play-off
Soccernet understands that some Premier League clubs have expressed their fears about the adverse effect on English football should there be a four-way play-off to decide who claims England's final Champions League place.
Currently the teams finishing in the top four positions are handed entry to Europe's elite competition, either in the main draw or at the qualifying stage, but the Premier League is believed to be considering a proposal to introduce a play-off for the fourth Champions League spot.
But Soccernet understands the idea has little support among the clubs, who are concerned that it could cost English football one of its coveted places in the Champions League.
It has been suggested that only the first three European spots be decided on league position and the fourth place be determined by a play-off. That could mean the teams finishing between fourth and seventh play a mini-knockout competition.
One idea also mooted is that it could see the return of the failed "39th game" proposal, meaning the play-offs would take place in another country, such as the United States, Australia or the Far East, but any suggestion to switch one of the most imporant games in a club's history to a foreign ground would surely be met with opposition.
The Dutch Eredivisie ran a play-off system for their second Champions League spot from 2006 but it was scrapped after just two seasons.
Such a move would be seen as a measure to inject more competition into the league, but if the team finishing seventh qualified for and won the Champions League place play-off, it could affect English football's coefficient if they then went out before reaching the group stage. Should that happen, eventually it is possible England's quota could be cut from four to three clubs.
In addition, the fixture programme is so congested already that extending the season is not something most clubs would encourage, especially in a World Cup or European Championship year.
The same four clubs - Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea - have filled the top four positions in five of the past six seasons. Only Everton, in 2005, have broken their stranglehold.
The proposal is thought to have been raised at a recent meeting of all 20 clubs and will be considered again when they next meet in April. If the proposal were to be voted on at any stage in the future, a 14-6 majority could be enough to see it implemented, although it would not force for another three years due to the current cycle of TV deals.
A Premier League spokesman said: "We look at all sorts of ideas and rarely make comment until we have decided something definitely.''