Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Bluebirds grounded

A quick footy-related posting. Cardiff City have managed their usual success at snatching defeat from the jaws of glorious victory by spending the last 3 matches getting one solitary point, by scraping a 2-2 draw with a couple of late goals against rock-bottom Charlton. Their other two fixtures saw a 6-0 drubbing at Preston, the only team who could realistically catch them for the last play-off place, and an ignominious 3-0 home reverse to Ipswich, a team with nothing to play for except avoiding the wrath of famously hot-headed new gaffer Roy Keane, in Ninian Park's final ever league game before their move to the new place across the road.

Why is this surprising, special, worthy of comment? SOmething that has seemingly gone totally unnoticed by footy fans is the real possibility of a bizarre play-off for the play-offs scenario. Under Football League rules, if two teams finish the season with identical points, goal difference and goals scored, and there is something to play for (ie a place in the play-offs for promotion), then the two teams must play a special play-off to determine who finishes highest.

Here is a part of the latest league table:

Played Pts Goals

Wolverhampton 45 87 27 79
Birmingham 45 80 16 52
Sheff Utd 45 79 25 64
Reading 45 77 33 71
Cardiff 45 74 13 65
Burnley 45 73 8 68
Preston 45 71 11 64
Swansea 45 68 14 63

I have included Swansea just to rub it in that they cannot get into the play-offs. Small comforts...

Now look at Cardiff and Preston's records. If Cardiff were to lose by a single goal, be it any given scoreline, and Preston were to win by that same scoreline, they would be exactly tied, and for the first time ever (I think!), the top seven would all make it into the play-offs, with Cardiff and Preston facing each other in a preliminary round.

Wonder what odds you'd have got at the beginning of the season that a team effectively finishing seventh could make it into the Premiership?!

None of this is of any comfort; I am pretty sure Preston will romp home with a fantastic end-of-season performance, while Cardiff will cave in miserably to a Sheffield Wednesday side who have absolutely nothing to play for and are mentally already halfway to the Costa del Bling for their summer break.

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