It could be right time to say good­bye

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

AF­TER more than 30 years and with dif­fer­ing for­mats, is it time to knock the Foot­ball League Tro­phy on the head? That is one of the ques­tions to be mulled over af­ter the dire at­ten­dances in the open­ing round of group matches in the newly-named Check­a­trade Tro­phy this week (see cen­tre pages).

Ahead of this sea­son, the feel­ing was that the tour­na­ment needed fresh life breathed into it. With the league seen for many clubs as the be-all and end-all these days, the old John­stone’s Paint Tro­phy had ap­peared to have be­come a nui­sance to many.

Clubs didn’t want to risk their play­ers suf­fer­ing in­jury or sus­pen­sion, fans didn’t want to pay good money to watch what was of­ten lit­tle more than re­serve team foot­ball.

The EFL de­cided to make a bold move to re­ju­ve­nate the com­pe­ti­tion, bring­ing in cat­e­gory one academy teams from Premier League (and Cham­pi­onship) clubs and bump­ing up the prize money.

The idea to bring in Premier League kids was al­ways go­ing to be a con­tro­ver­sial one, but it didn’t help that the big­gest of the big boys turned down their in­vites.

Con­fu­sion over eli­gi­bil­ity and a lack of pub­lic­ity about the prize money on of­fer also ham­pered the cause. Now the com­pe­ti­tion has got off on the wrong foot, it’s go­ing to be very dif­fi­cult to turn things around.

When the one-sea­son trial is over, maybe it’s time to say good­bye to the com­pe­ti­tion. Once it gave play­ers, fans and clubs who would never have had a chance of get­ting to Wem­b­ley an op­por­tu­nity. But now we’ve got the play-offs…

We of­ten talk about fix­ture con­ges­tion in this coun­try, so do we re­ally need more matches? Isn’t the league, FA Cup and EFL Cup enough? Shouldn’t play­ers be work­ing on their skills on the train­ing ground?

The Foot­ball League Tro­phy has pro­vided lots of great mo­ments over the years, but noth­ing lasts forever.

Fine work...!

HATS off to Lu­ton Town’s young­sters for go­ing to Gilling­ham and earn­ing a sur­prise 2-1 win in the Check­a­trade Tro­phy.

Man­ager Nathan Jones couldn’t speak more highly of his young troops and let’s hope they es­cape a fine (see page 31).

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