Belfast Telegraph

Play-off system concerns Declan Caddell

By Graham Luney

Crusaders' European hopes in 2014 may be dangling by a thread but their potential continental adventures in the future are also occupying the mind of Declan Caddell.

The Crues midfielder is not a huge fan of the new Northern Ireland Football League rules which will see clubs that finish from third to seventh position contest a play-off for the right to feature in the Europa League.

The play-off system will be implented at the end of the 2015-2016 season and it has been welcomed by some supporters who believe the new format will make the league more competitive in it's final few weeks.

Crusaders qualified for their Europa League campaign by finishing third in the Danske Bank Premiership last season but a similar finish in 2016 would not guarantee them continental action. Caddell said: "It's a hard one and I can see both arguments. My problem is that a team can finish third and perhaps 20 or 30 points ahead of the side that finish sixth or seventh.

"Where you get to at the end of the season reflects your hard work and consistency throughout the season, it's not a reward for winning the last few matches.

"It should drive teams on to finish in the top two places to avoid that play-off but hopefully it will help the league in the long run and give a new competitive edge."

Stephen Baxter's side entertain Swedish side Brommapojkarna tonight, trailing 4-0 from the first leg. The Hatchetmen rewrote the history books by winning away from home and progressing in European competition for the first time in the previous round.

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