champions league play-off

Chairman vote against Champions League play-off

March 4, 2010
By Harry Harris, Football Correspondent

Plans for a play-off for England's fourth Champions League place appear to be dead after Premier League chairmen voted against the proposal on Thursday - but Soccernet has learned that Sunderland and Wolves had been eager to see the plans implemented.

Champions League trophy
GettyImagesThe fourth English Champions League spot has been hotly contested this season

League considering play-off
Bosses unimpressed by plans

The idea would have seen clubs finishing in positions four to seven play off for the right to enter the final qualifying round of the Champions League. At present, the club that finishes fourth goes into the Champions League Play-off Round directly by right.

For the changes to be implemented, 14 of the league's 20 clubs were required to vote in favour and, following a meeting in London, it was decided that the current system will remain in place.

But one of the chairmen at the meeting has told Soccernet that, although the result was some distance from the two-thirds majority needed, the vote was divided almost 50-50 and that Sunderland and Wolves galvanised a split.

As expected, the 'big four' were opposed to the move, but it was surprising that Sunderland and Wolves led the pro lobby as opposed to one of the clubs who might obviously benefit, such as Aston Villa, Spurs or Everton.

Soccernet understands that clubs were loath to risk finishing fourth only to miss out on a place in the competition, while another factor was that English football's European coefficients would suffer if the club that finished seventh failed to get past the qualifying stage on a regular basis. Such an occurrence could see the English allocation cut from four clubs to three.

The Soccernet insider said: "Sunderland and Wolves spoke out very strongly in favour, but the big clubs didn't need to tell everyone they were not in favour - we all knew that.

"There had been plenty of discussion beforehand, so once Sunderland and Wolves had their say, it went straight to the vote.

"It was pretty even, virtually 50-50, but not enough to carry the 14 votes in favour to gain the two-thirds majority."

Any new proposal would not come into force for at least three years anyway because of withstanding TV deals.