Premier League might have a one-game relegation playoff this season

It’s time to root for Hull and Swansea to finish level across the board. (AP Photo)

There have been proposals for a 39th Premier League game before.

This extra round of games held after the regular 38-game schedule is wrapped up and the final table confirmed, however, would be promotional. It would be scattered around the world as a kind of all-league barnstorming tour. But the idea has never really gone anywhere.

This season, we could have a 39th game anyway, the Guardian reports.

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Should Swansea City and Hull City finish tied on points in 18th place – or 17th, if you will – they would teeter on the precipice of relegation and conserving their place in the Premier League, since the bottom three of 20 teams drop down to the Championship.

And it isn’t inconceivable that they’d also wind up with the same goal difference and number of goals scored – the other tiebreakers. Currently, and with three games to go, 17th-place Hull has 34 points with a minus-31 goal difference and 36 goals scored. Swansea has 32 points with a minus-29 goal difference and 40 goals scored.

There has never been such a one-off playoff before. But while still obviously a long shot, the possibility of one this year is sufficiently probable that the Premier League has explored the logistics.

By the rules, the sides would play one game in a neutral venue.

According to the Guardian, such a playoff almost happened twice before. In 1996, Manchester United and Newcastle United almost needed a playoff to decide the title before Man United won it outright. And in 2013, Arsenal and Chelsea almost wound up tied for third place, which would have required a game to decide direct Champions League qualification. Chelsea won it by two points.

Preparations for such a game have not yet been made, like in the past, but we can’t help but root for one. However unlikely it is, we’re here for this winner-take-all bonus game. Because playoffs are great and not having playoffs is a missed opportunity for entertaining games.

So if in the next three games, Swansea could make up two points and if Hull could summon four more goals and improve its goal difference by two, we’d appreciate it.


Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

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