RicoAUBL Posted November 24, 2010 Report Share Posted November 24, 2010 Here's an interesting article i read on the AFC website..As an exiled Dons fan living in Texas, i found this idea rather interesting.I'm all for it. Letter From America | Blogs | Blogs | Blogs | AberdeenThere will be a new name on Major League Soccer's championship trophy on Sunday, after Jamie Smith's Colorado Rapids have played F.C. Dallas in the 15th MLS Cup Final in Toronto. Although Dallas ended the regular season nine points behind table-topping Los Angeles Galaxy in fourth place and the Rapids finished another four points back in seventh, the two teams have carried their impressive late-season form into the play-offs. In MLS, that's all that matters.It's a system that irks the country's soccer aficionados who would rather see the team that finishes top crowned as champions. But it does create much-needed excitement. Last year, Real Salt Lake were in 12th place entering the final round of league games. They won, sneaked into the eighth and final play-off spot on goal difference, and went on to lift the title. As competition and attendances in Scotland plummet, SPL executives could do worse than adopt a similar league structure.Celtic and Rangers have shared 12 titles equally since the SPL was founded in 1998. Only once has another team split the Old Firm, when Hearts were runners-up, 17 points behind Celtic, in 2005-06. The team finishing third has trailed the champions by 29 points on average, resulting in terminal staleness that manifests itself in increasing number of empty seats at Pittodrie, Tynecastle, Easter Road, Tannadice, and even Ibrox and Parkhead. Something needs to be done to arrest the slide.So how would an MLS-style play-off system work in Scotland? A 16-team league has often been mooted as an ideal number for the SPL, so promote four teams from Division One and move to a 30-game regular season. The top eight teams qualify for the play-offs while the bottom two are relegated, ensuring that almost every game remains meaningful.The first round of the play-offs would pit first versus eighth, second versus seventh, third versus sixth, and fourth versus fifth, to be played over two legs with the highest seed playing at home in the return game. Last year, this would have given St. Johnstone the chance to knock out Rangers, while Hamilton would have faced Celtic.This is where the real excitement is in Major League Soccer. In the last four seasons, the higher seeds have faltered as often as they have progressed. A recent example from last month saw New York Red Bulls, with their $15 million payroll including Thierry Henry, Rafa Marquez and Juan Pablo Angel, ousted by the unfancied San Jose Earthquakes.Such upsets are probably less likely to happen in Scotland, given the financial disparity between the Old Firm and the rest, but St. Johnstone managed to record a famous 4-1 win over the Light Blues at McDiarmid Park earlier this year - a result that would have put them in a great position for the second leg at Ibrox.From there, the four survivors would again be paired according to their league positions. Assuming from last season that the higher seeds progressed, Rangers would have met Hibernian and Celtic would have played Dundee United. The ties could either be another two-legged affair or one-off games at Hampden Park. The championship would then be decided on the last day of the Scottish football season at Hampden - a far more enticing curtain call than some of the recent Scottish Cup finals.The Scottish Cup could retain its current format, but be moved forward so that the final takes place before the focus shifts to the play-offs. The League Cup would return to its post-Christmas format, possibly even with a small group stage to compensate for the reduced number of league fixtures.It's a radical idea, but it's not crazy. Mexico uses a play-off system to determine its league champions, and even splits the season into two distinct halves with an opening and closing championship. Closer to home, it's long been accepted that the sixth-best team in the English Championship can earn promotion to the Premier League. And it isn't all that long ago that Liverpool, the fifth-best team in England at the time, became European champions.And I'd guess that play-offs would generate far greater excitement than any "Top Six" split ever will.- Ian Thomson is an exiled Dons fan living in New York City.Discuss. Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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