I’m working on a guide to the frequently recurring arguments (FRA?) about promotion/relegation, and I got on a roll when I was answering the complaint that my modified promotion/relegation idea (see an example with teams plugged in) is too complicated for anyone to follow.
Here’s the response:
Let’s say you follow English soccer. The top two tiers of the league are simple, sure — three up, three down, like a sergeant’s insignia or the end of an inning in baseball. Well, the Championship throws in a twist, with the third- through sixth-place teams in playoffs for that last Premier League spot, but that’s not so bad.
And the Premier League has qualification for Europe — assuming England’s coefficient is still high enough, they’ll send three teams to straight to the Champions League group stage, then the fourth-place team to the Champions League playoff round, and the fifth-place team qualifies for the Europa League group stage. Then the FA Cup winner qualifies also qualifies for the Europa League group stage, and the EFL Cup winner qualifies for a Europa League playoff round.
Of course, the FA Cup winner may also be in the top five of the Premier League, in which case that Europa League spot goes to the next-best team in the EPL. And the EFL Cup winner may qualify for the Champions League or Europa League group stage, in which case the Europa League playoff spot goes the the next- (or next-next-) best team.
And the Europa League champions qualify for the Champions League the next year, so that adds a further reshuffling.
So what are those Cup competitions? Well, the FA Cup starts with 737 teams, with the lowest-tiered entries playing in the extra preliminary round, then the preliminary round, then four qualifying rounds before reaching the first round proper, which is when the fully professional Football League enters. But not the Premier League and Championship, whose teams enter in the third round in January and often play their reserves until it looks like they might have a chance of winning the thing.
But wait, there’s also the EFL Cup, now called the Carabao Cup.
The EFL Cup is only for “League” teams — though the fifth and sixth tiers are no longer the “Conference” but rather the “National League.” The semifinals are two legs, just to add to the fixture congestion for EPL teams after the “festive fixtures” just when some might like to rest up for the resumption of European play. That differs from the FA Cup, in which a drawn game is replayed. (In Football Manager, if my team is struggling with injuries, I may try to lose a close game intentionally just to avoid a replay.)
Oh, did we mention all of these competitions go on at the same time? Maybe Chelsea could recall one of its 33 players on loan.
So what was the question?