Sunday, May 13, 2012

Now that's how to finish a season

Usually, the drama on the final day of the English Premier League season occurs at the bottom of the table, as teams fight to survive relegation.

That drama also played out at the top of the table Sunday, as Manchester City raised a top-flight league title for the first time since 1968 with a 3-2 victory over QPR, getting goals in stoppage time from Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero. Bolton was relegated for the first time in a decade with a 2-2 draw at Stoke, sealing its fate in the Championship next season alongside Blackburn and Wolves.

The governing bodies of the sport should be applauded for taking steps to ensure the race to the finish is played out in a sportsmanlike manner, because there have been a few instances in which it's been far from it.

There was an incident in the 1980s, and to be honest I've heard the story before and can't recall who was involved, but the generalities underline the point. It was the final day of group play - I believe in the Champions League - and two teams were playing a match that played to a 1-1 tie after the first half. At halftime, with a staggered match schedule, word came down of another match result, a final score which ensured both teams were guaranteed to advance to the next round if their match stayed a tie. So what did they do? They "played" the second half - by essentially putting on a passing clinic, one teammate to the other until everybody got a touch, and then the other team did the same. They actually did this for 45 minutes to ensure a 1-1 draw.

Now that's a farce. A true story unfortunately, but a farce.

In this digital age, the news of goals during matches played at the same time will still be fairly instantaneous obviously, so teams will always have a general idea of what they need to do.

But at least fans will be guaranteed of not watching kickball as opposed to an actual match.

- Chris Lillstrung


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