Whatever the argument against the proposed 39th Premiership game you might hear, none is more compelling than the fact the English league would become an English cup competition if an extra game was introduced. The fact that each team plays each other twice, once at home, once away, is the most fair way to decide who the best team in the country is.
Whilst the European Cup and FA Cup are massive prizes, they essentially prove nothing. Winning the league proves beyond any doubt that you have the best side in the land. The moment an extra game is introduced, this proof disappears.
Take last season, when the Premiership might have been won on goal difference. Our league is so close at times that the fact your defence and attack have the edge over your rivals, despite picking up the same amount of points in the matches, can be the defining attribute of champions. Add in another game and this slight difference can be swung unfairly in another team’s balance.
For example, imagining the team you play for the 39th game is drawn at random, United may face Liverpool in Japan, whilst Chelsea face West Brom in France. The league becomes flawed. Chelsea could win the title on goal difference or marginal points, whilst United lost out because of a more difficult fixture. This could also be applied in an alternative way though, with United being handed the easier game. Whilst winning is always the most important thing, I wouldn’t want people claiming our title win was dodgy because our result against West Brom, in contrast to Chelsea’s result against Liverpool, was what clinched us the title.
Unsurprisingly, Sir Alex Ferguson, like every other person with sense, agrees.
“I don’t think there will ever be a 39th game and I don’t believe there should be,” said Ferguson. “I certainly am not in favour of it. You look at our domestic programme allied to our cup competitions. It is impossible.”