Fourth might not be enough any more
- Mon 15 Feb 2010, 10:25AM
- Posted by Peter Ferguson
Sometimes the most significant stories can slip under the radar, especially after a busy FA Cup weekend and when space is at a real premium on Monday morning.
Which is maybe why, tucked away at the foot of page 18 of the Telegraph's football pull-out, sits a tale that will have major repercussions for several clubs if it comes to pass.
Almost nonchalantly, the uncredited author reveals: "The Premier League's fourth Champions League qualification place may be decided by a play-off system."
"The League," he or she adds, "is believed to be keen to inject some excitement into qualification for the lucrative spots."
Crikey. Any more excitement than this season's mad scramble would need paramedics on standby. They're already ashen-faced at Anfield at the thought of missing out on the jackpot.
City, Tottenham and Aston Villa are all in there, aiming to duck under the rope to the VIP section and elbow aside one of the elite who have dominated the top-four berths for years.
The Telegraph says: "First, second and third places would go through as normal, but the fourth place would be contested by clubs that finished fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh.
"The proposal is believed to have been made at the meeting of the Premier League clubs on Feb 4, and chief executive Richard Scudamore is expected to flesh out the plans in April."
Whoever finishes fourth after a ten-month marathon is going to feel mighty peeved. But the revolution will be televised, as usual, and there will be pots of extra money all round ...
On a lighter note, Stephen Ireland has bought himself a new aquarium for his tropical fish, reports the Sun's John Coles. And the whole thing only set him back £100,000.
Their exclusive picture shows what appears to be a huge slice of coral reef from Fiji in a four-metre acrylic tank holding 6,000 litres of saltwater and 500 fish.
He quotes Stevie: "It's just breathtaking! When people see it their first reaction is 'Wow!'" Ours too. Puts Peter Ridsdale's £20-a-month on goldfish at Leeds in perspective.