The powerful man sat in his leather chair and swirled his glass of expensive whiskey. The 1953 Glenfarclas at over £7,000 a bottle was the perfect accompaniment to the joy he felt within. What a day of drama he thought, I couldn’t have planned it any better if I tried.
He pushed the play button one more time, a last reminder he thought the smile growing even wider as he watched Sergio Aguero score the goal that won Manchester City a first ever Premier League title. What drama!
Twelve months later the powerful man was once again in his leather chair only this time he was not as happy. “How can this be” he shouted to the not so powerful people, “can anyone tell me how the hell we managed to get to the last day of the season with everything finalized? I’m not happy and neither are the television companies. This is very damaging to our reputation as the most exciting and dramatic league in the world. Find me something”
The not so powerful people were shell-shocked. They didn’t know what to do. Sure there was still the race for the Champions League spot but they knew that outside of fans of Chelsea (already guaranteed a Champions League spot), Arsenal and Spurs no one was overly bothered with that.
Everybody was frantic. The powerful man, by now standing at the window staring out at nothing mumbled “This can’t be, the league needs drama, that’s what makes it so wonderful”.
The not so powerful people went looking for the even less powerful people.
The even less powerful people sat in a dark room in the west wing of the building. They all wore cords and glasses and had nice hair. One of them, a young intern wearing brown cords, glasses and with a nice mop of hair was busy working away so he didn’t hear the not the so powerful people shouting.
He was reading a rulebook and was just on RULE C13 and about to take a break when something caught his eye, RULE C14. He remembered hearing about RULE C14 before, the year 1996 came to mind immediately. Newcastle and Manchester United were chasing for the title and were neck and neck for most of the season he remembered his excitement growing. It never materialized on that occasion though although the intern remembered getting his hands on one of the rare printed tickets that were published for the event.
Snapping out of his trip down memory lane the intern read the RULE. There it was in small black and white print the words he was chasing, the words he needed. His glasses fogged up slightly so he took them and cleaned them to make sure he had read the words right.
He, the intern, had discovered a rule, no not a rule, THE RULE. A rule so powerful it could potentially force two teams to play an additional game for the right to avoid a qualifying round of European football.
The intern rubbed his hands on his cords as re-read the golden scribe he had uncovered and for a brief second he let his mind wonder to the jewels and gold he would receive for his discovery.
Quickly he composed himself, the words jumped out at him:
If at the end of the Season either the League Champions or the Clubs to be relegated or the question of qualification for other competitions cannot be determined because 2 or more Clubs are equal on points, goal difference and goals scored, the Clubs concerned shall play off one or more deciding League Matches on neutral grounds, the format, timing and venue of which shall be determined by the Board.
If they want drama then I will give them drama he thought as he ran book in hand to the not so powerful people. They were happy, very happy. They took the corded intern with them as they marched down the hallway to the very powerful man’s office.
The powerful man, looking aged and broken, didn’t appreciate being disturbed so soon after he had dismissed his not so supportive team. “This better be good” he barked. The not so powerful people froze at his anger. Was the information they had good? They all pondered.
The young intern seized his moment. We can still have a super Sunday he hoarsely shouted suddenly remembering his audience.
“How can this be,” said the very powerful man. “Rule C14” said the intern, his voice steadier now.
The intern went onto explain how if Chelsea and Everton drew and Arsenal beat Newcastle by one goal then both sides would finish on the same number of points with the same goal difference which according to Rule C14 meant they would need to meet in a play off to see who would finish in third place.
“Excellent work, excellent work indeed” the very powerful man said his mind already thinking as to a venue. Get a press release out immediately. Let all the televisions stations, newspapers and websites know. We’re back in business.
Everyone ran out of the room, there was work to be done. Alone the very powerful man was smiling again “Hmm let me see”, he thought “two London teams with very big fans bases playing it out for the right not to have to play a qualifying game for the Champions League”. He pushed the button down on his speaker phone, “Vera, Get me Randy Lerner on the line…”