Times Sport editor John Hutchins offers his personal opinion on the events, topics and personalities in the world of sport.
THE football ‘play offs’ to determine which winning team enjoys the glory of promotion to a higher league and to the loser, the dreadful reality of being doomed to yet another season in the wilderness, has never left me fully convinced of its fairness.
It seems a little harsh that a team in third place, which may have lost out on goal difference or one point on automatic promotion, has, after a 46 game season, now found that a team in seventh place – and perhaps 12 or even 15 points behind — is given equal chance in the play-off lottery.
So often it has been found that the teams who scrapped into the play-off places ultimately triumph over sides that have been close at the top of the league all season but have run out of steam towards the end. The cynic in me says that these extra games, with two ‘semi-finals’, a final at Wembley and a guaranteed television audience, is a great way of extracting hard earned cash from the loyal fans who have already invested a fortune in following their clubs that season.
The supporters of the concept would say that all the extra drama is part of the fun, with the rollercoaster of emotions it guarantees, and the prospect of a trip to Wembley – for some clubs and their fans, perhaps the only ever such outing — making it all worthwhile. Also the injection of tens, if not, hundreds of thousands of pounds into the coffers of cash strapped clubs is more than welcome by their owners and administrators.
However, having declared my reservations on the play-offs, who am I to deprive the joy of the Exeter City fans delighted by a last minute victory in their drama-filled matches with Carlisle United last week.
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