Chris O (follow on Twitter: @COakleyFtbl)
Mon 29 January 2007

Only as good as your last game?

Some say football's gone a bit stale, that it needs a bit of excitement injected into it. The same old teams winning, the usual suspects doing badly and ending up on the scrapheap.

What are we to do? Maybe we could wait and see what Michel Platini will introduce to the game as the new head of UEFA? Easier still, wait ten minutes to see what brainstorm Sepp Blatter comes up with - he's always good for a laugh.

No, it's no good. What we need is a radical new system to change the way the game's played in order to liven things up a bit, and I think I have the answer.

To be fair, it's not really a new idea as it's something I remember from my childhood, but it's certainly worth considering. (Well it is if you want a bit of fun.)

It's called the Ladder League system and here's how it works. Let's say on a hypothetical Saturday afternoon, there's a match between Newcastle (sitting in 10th place in the Premiership) and Fulham (in 16th). Joy of joys, Fulham end up winning the match, but instead of awarding them three points as is currently the case, you make them swap places in the league - Fulham taking 10th spot and Newcastle dropping to 16th. If it had been a draw, they'd stay where they are.

OK, so it's not the fairest system in the world, but let's take another look at it. Imagine if Man United - top of the league - were playing Watford - propping up the table at the bottom. In one fell swoop, Aidy Boothroyd could see his team top the league by putting in one incredible performance to beat Sir Alex Ferguson's lot. Watford would never have more motivation to play well and Man United would have no option but to play well for fear of ending up bottom of the table.

Of course it's not a complete win-win situation. For the team higher up in the table, they'd be purely playing to avoid defeat so they can stay in the same position after the match. Defensive performances could be commonplace, but imagine what it'd be like on the last day of the season. Your team could end up - almost by random - playing another in the bottom three. Your team could be relegated when everything seemed safe the week before. Conversely, your team could end up winning the title or qualifying for Europe when previously there was no such hope. The atmosphere at that final game would be unbelievable.

You see - it seemed like a churlish suggestion earlier, but you must be thinking it's an idea that's got some legs now, aren't you? And if you're wondering how the Premiership would be looking at the present time if such a system had been implemented this season, here's the answer:

1 Liverpool
2 Charlton
3 Chelsea
4 Middlesbrough
5 Bolton
6 Arsenal
7 Watford
8 Reading
9 Everton
10 Man City
11 Man United
12 Aston Villa
13 Wigan
14 Sheff United
15 Fulham
16 Newcastle
17 Portsmouth
18 Blackburn
19 Tottenham
20 West Ham

Obviously the season hasn't finished yet, but you can see that some of the positions are looking about right already. Chelsea are near the top, West Ham are near the bottom... not such a flight of fantasy, eh?

Right, that's that then. A system that guarantees excitment in spades, extreme highs and lows - everything a fan could want. Somebody get me Sepp Blatter's e-mail address, please...

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