A play-off is a small tournament that is often played at the end of a league season to determine who will earn the remaining promotion place. In most cases, the four teams that finished below the automatic promotion position are entered into a small knock-out tournament, the winner of which earns promotion. This system means that promotion is up for grabs until the very end of the season and it will not always be the top teams that are promoted.
4 Team FormatEdit
Generally, the four teams which finish below the automatic promotion positions are entered. Two semi-finals are played, the winners of each go forward to the final. The winner of the final earns the final promotion place in the league.
Some top divisions in countries have a play-off to decide the champions. Teams are set in groups, and the teams at the top of each group will qualify and progress onto the play-offs, which may have a quarter final stage depending on how many teams qualify. In the case of Mexico, the top two teams of three groups qualify. Having six teams in the play-offs would not work out, however, the next two best ranked teams are also chosen to compete in the quarter finals.
Some leagues have a play-off between a team above the relegation places at the bottom of a league and the team one behind the automatic places in the league below. If the relegation threatened team wins they will stay in the upper division and the other team in the lower, however, if they lose, they will be relegated and the other team will take their place.
Spain: Segunda Division BEdit
Spain has a rather unique take on the play-off system in it's Segunda Division B.
Each of the four group winners are draw against each other. One team will play another home and away, with the winners getting promotion, meaning two group winners are definitely promoted.
The four group runners-up will be drawn against one of the three fourth-placed teams outside their group while the four third-placed teams are drawn against one another in a two-legged series. The six winners advance with the two losing group winners to determine the four teams that will enter the last two-legged series for the last two promotion spots. In all the playoff series, the lower-ranked club plays at home first. Whenever there is a tie in position (eg. a third placed team did as well as a group winner) a draw will take place to decide who plays at home first.