An A-League finals series consisting of four teams is a far better alternative than the current six teams.

It’s time for the FFA to make the run home more exciting for fans and make sides earn their place in a finals series that enables the very best of the competition to battle it out. We can’t just make up the numbers and feature teams in fifth and sixth place that don’t really deserve it.

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Since the expansion to ten clubs from 2009-10 there’s enough evidence to say fifth and sixth teams are virtually redundant as they won’t progress that far. Let’s see where they have progressed following each home-and-away season from 2009-2012:

2009-10: Perth Glory (fifth) semi-finals week one and Newcastle Jets (sixth) semi-finals week two.

2010-11: Melbourne Victory (fifth) and Wellington Phoenix (sixth) semi-finals week one.

2011-12: Sydney FC (fifth) and Melbourne Heart (sixth) semi-finals week one.

Out of six possibilities, only Newcastle could reach the second week of finals with the rest knocked out in the opener. None of these teams made it to the preliminary final which was the next step towards the Grand Final. The top two had a significant advantage over lower ranked teams given the double chance they had.

Has a switch from a four week finals series down to three made much of a difference to increase the opportunity of going through to the grand final? Let’s have a look at where teams ended up with the current finals structure:

2012-13: Brisbane Roar (fifth) semi-finals and Perth (sixth) elimination finals.

2013-14: Sydney FC (fifth) and Adelaide United (sixth) elimination finals.

2014-15: Melbourne City (fifth) semi-finals and Brisbane (sixth) elimination finals.

2015-16: Perth Glory (fifth) and Victory (sixth) elimination finals.

2016-17: Perth (fifth) semi-finals and Western Sydney (sixth) elimination finals.

Out of ten possibilities Brisbane, City and Perth managed to make it to the semi-final, where currently a win would take a club to the Grand Final. It means that in eight seasons consisting of ten teams, no one who finished in fifth or sixth place has made it to the decider.

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You might be thinking there’s a chance of a fairy tale run like Western Bulldogs from AFL and North Queensland Cowboys from NRL in 2017, but the reality is this feat is highly unlikely for those not at the pointy end of the table.

While the A-League has taken away the top-two’s double chance, they only need to play two finals matches, in comparison to the three a fifth and sixth placed team would play shall they make the Grand Final.

It’s just the nature of any finals series and history tells us that a dream run from outside the top four requires a lot of hard work. To this day, we have yet to seen any championship success from those positions.

Facts and stats courtesy of ultimatealeague.com

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Liam Watson is covering Melbourne Victory this season while completing Media and Communications at La Trobe University.