So many domestic supporters longingly advocate the promotion-relegation system, and it really is difficult to argue the sentiment. The agonizing battles to stay up can be as glorious as the drive to win it all.
In reality, that structure would be a hard sell in America for a myriad of reasons. But the structure itself is stocking-stuffed with merit.
There is, however, a small nick in the Kevlar on this one, the one downer I see about promotion-relegation:
Mid-pack teams have nothing to play for at the moment. Look toward England, for instance.
Clint Dempsey scored (again!) Saturday as Fulham took down Norwich. Did it matter? For Dempsey it certainly did, as the Texan continues to build on the best season yet for any American in Premiership employment – any of them not wearing ‘keepers gloves, at least.
For his team? Meh.
Fulham isn’t going anywhere. Even with Saturday’s win on the last day of March, there’s just no way to see the Cottagers making up 14 points on Newcastle or Chelsea for sixth spot and a possible berth in European play next year.
On the other hand, they’ve done enough in 2011-12 to be safely free of the relegation monster. Only some epic collapse would see Martin Jol’s men of West London threatened by a drop into second-tied soccer.
So, Fulham’s got pride for which to play – but what else?
Same for Norwich, Stoke City, Swansea and Sunderland.
The promotion-relegation structure has its undeniable delights. But what if those mid-pack sides were stalking for a playoff position? That wouldn’t completely stink either, eh?