It potentially could, as the lawmakers of the game could see this as an opportunity to give less talented teams the chance to claim scalps against the bigger clubs, which happens so frequently in knockout tournaments.
Whether or not this change would ever come into effect in Europe is another question altogether, but with the recent introduction of a third European competition in the Conference League and the changes to the Champions League due to come into effect in 2024/25, it shows that footballing authorities are willing to make changes to the game, so the play-off format, whilst extremely unlikely, can’t be ruled out.
Nevertheless, most of Europe’s top five leagues are dominated by the same sides, such as Manchester City, PSG, and Bayern Munich, so let’s take a look at if the format could work in them.
In the Premier League, which has been dominated by Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea over the last decade, a play-off format would certainly give us some amazing matches of football.
Every time that Liverpool and Manchester City square off with one another, it provides us with a thrilling game of football, so this in a play-off format would also be a great watch. And with the quality of Chelsea, and the rise of Tottenham and Arsenal in recent years, combined with the spending power of Manchester United, means that either of the Premier League’s big six could win a play-off tournament.
Teams like Arsenal and Manchester City are also very good in knockout competitions like the FA Cup and Carabao Cup, so they likely could repeat their performances in those competitions in a play-off format.
In Ligue 1, PSG are always the favourites to win the league, and they have won it eight times out of the last 10 seasons, with surprise wins coming for Monaco in 2016/17 and for Lille in 2020/21. And before that, Montpellier claimed their maiden league title in 2011/12.
So despite PSG’s dominance of the league, there are occasionally some surprise winners.
And it is these surprises, coupled with the talent of Marseille and Lyon, that means that if a play-off format were introduced in France, yes PSG would win, but there would likely be some surprise wins for other teams aswell.
Despite the dominance of Juventus in Serie A since 2012, their reign of success seems to be coming to an end, with no league title for the Old Lady since the 2019/20 season, and the rise of rival clubs such as Napoli, AC Milan and Inter Milan.
But although the Milan teams finally regained the Scudetto, it was a hard journey, where they did suffer defeat to teams like Juventus and Napoli, and that combined with the rise of Roma under Jose Mourinho means that a play-off format would work to provide some good matches in Italy.
However, with the Bundesliga and La Liga, we can not see a play-off format working here, simply due to the sheer dominance of the top teams in those leagues. Bayern have won the last 10 Bundesliga seasons in a row, and in Spain, Real Madrid and Barcelona have won the league title in 17 out of the last 20 seasons - for these sides, their dominance doesn’t look like ending any time soon, even with the addition of a play-off tournament.
But overall, the addition of play-offs is a very interesting idea and could add a competitive edge to most leagues.