Sunday, June 23, 2024

Please bring back the play-offs England Hockey, all is forgiven

I never thought I’d say it, but I miss England Hockey’s end of season championship play-offs.  
Once upon a time, I was of the view that it was unfair that a team could finish 10 points clear at the top of the table, lose in the play-offs and watch someone else be crowned champions. However, this season’s system of splitting the league in two at the mid-point has left me yearning for the good old days of just a couple of seasons ago. 
The old system, for those of you who are unsure, would have the top four teams battling it out for the title over the course of finals weekend, with two semi-finals and a title showdown. There was also the added spice of the Premier Division’s second-bottom side in do-or-die action against the winners of the leagues below for a place in the top flight the following season. Of course, it wasn’t perfect. However compared to the system in place this season, it now looks a much better option.  

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  1. Whilst I understand it will feels a little unfair not having the team that finished top of the league crowned champions I think it is less of an issue when teams lose players during the season for reasons outside their control.

    For example in the Premier league (football) teams rarely (African Cup of Nations being large exception) lose their players to internationals so there is no real need for play-offs at the end of the season. The best team is pretty much always the team that finishes with the most points in the league.

    However take the Rugby Premiership and they have play-offs to decide their champions. Now these teams will often lose their internationals for good chunks of the season (for both Autumn internationals and 6 Nations). Here it makes more sense to me that the final league standings is less representative of who the best team is and therefore a playoff with the best 4 teams seems a happy compromise – often with the higher ranked teams gaining a theoretical advantage in either their play-off opponent or a home draw.

    So with hockey being much more like rugby with clubs frequently losing their players to internationals/pro league it seems that an end of season play-off is not unjustifiable.

    No solution is perfect and lots of good arguments for and against play-offs but I certainly think it a better solution than the league split which looks messy and seems like it does not achieve much.

  2. The league winners should be the champions.

    EH should not arrange pro-league/international games during the regular season or at least should give clubs the option to postpone if they so desire.
    The playoffs, shall we call it the M25 Cup? can be used to decide who gets the other EHL place(s) on offer and which seed number.

    At the end of the 19-20 season the relegation play offs were set to be
    Div 1N v DIv 1S – winner goes up (can’t remember if 1 or 2 games?)
    Loser from above v Prem 9th place, home and away, winner stays up.
    If the prem is going to stay at 12, then might as well do away with relegation/promotion playoffs and just relegate 11th 12th and promote both Div 1 winners.
    Make playoffs like this happen AT the clubs themselves not somewhere miles away – This is how the Dutch do it.
    Do not have BP v BH at 10:00am Lee Valley when we are just 5 miles apart, 200 miles North.

    The split, mixed responses from our players, yes we play more matches where we might get a result, but less chance to play against the elite and measure yourself that way. Playing a few clubs three times becomes a bit samey – especially when you add in warm-up games where we have often played Beeston/Durham twice.

    Ross, I just reckon you fancy a trip down South.



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