Maybe you’ve heard the news: Leicester City won the English Premier League on Monday.
Only, they hadn’t kicked a ball since Sunday. How’s that? Well…
There are no playoffs in English football. That’s right. No playoffs.
That’s a strange concept to an American sports fan, I know. “You mean, the season just…ends?”
Yes, exactly, and whoever is at the top of the standings (the ‘table’ as it is known) at the end is crowned champion, whether that happens on the pitch or off of it as was the case on Monday when Tottenham failed to win at Chelsea. This meant that no team could accumulate as many points as the Foxes of Leicester City already had in the bank. That was it, done and dusted. The impossible dream had became a reality, Leicester City are 2016 Premier League Champs with two games to spare.
But the season marches on for a couple more weeks, with still more to play for because there is something else English football teams covet: a top four finish.
Aside from Leicester at the top of the heap and Tottenham, currently 2nd, who are guaranteed a top four finish, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and, surprisingly, if only by a hair, West Ham United are jockeying for the final two spots because with a top four finish come the riches of the UEFA Champions League NEXT season. Right there is another foreign concert for the American sports fan: how a team ends one season impacts the tournaments they are eligible to play in, and the money they will make, the next.
I make no secret of my love for English and European football, so much so that the idea of playoffs in this country is starting to seem strange to me. The best team is, logically, defined as the team that had played the best over the course of many, many months throughout a full season, not necessarily the one who plays the best during a 6 week stretch at the end of a long campaign. It makes sense that Leicester City have been crowned champions for the first time in their 132-year existence. They were the best from kickoff in August through the first Sunday and Monday in May. Leicester are worthy champions, no playoffs needed.
Now it’s up to the other top clubs to finish strong and secure a coveting top four finish.
You may also like to read: Fathers & Sons on the Blue Side of Liverpool — a story about Everton Football Club.