Could the Check a trade Trophy be in line for revamp?
THE much-maligned EFL Trophy will undergo another major close season revamp, with consideration being given to not inviting Premier League U21 sides back into the competition following a fierce fans’ backlash.
The competition has been widely ridiculed since the format switched in the summer to group stages and top-flight and Championship club’s academies welcomed.
A £10,000 per win group stage prize was not seen as a sweetener by most, and clubs faced being fined heavily should they not field enough first-team players.
But The Football League Paper understands the EFL has listened to the complaints about the competition and another overhaul is expected to be ratified shortly.
EFL communications director Mark Rowan revealed: “It was always our intention to review the competition on a season-to-season basis. The matter will be discussed, first by the board and then with member clubs.”
It is known the trophy sponsors Checkatrade, the rogue trader prevention website, are unhappy with the negative publicity which has surrounded the cup and want a big PR improvement. Attendances have been mocked, with many clubs electing to open just one stand for matches.
A number of group stage games have been played in front of three-figure crowds as social media went into overdrive.
Questionable rules, such as group games ending in a draw going to penalty shootHarvey, outs for a bonus point, were derided
But most of the anger has been directed at what are seen as hypocritical rules, with League One and League Two clubs fined for playing non-first XI players, while Premier League and Championship clubs were invited to take part to give young players experience.
Luton Town have been the most vocal, with Kenilworth Road directors fuming at a fine of £15,000 for fielding ‘understrength’ teams in the group stage, though they still managed to qualify for the knockout stages.
EFL officials will meet this month to find a way forward, with clubs demanding change.
Should a radical overhaul occur, as widely expected, then it will again call into question the input of EFL chief executive Shaun whose Whole Game Solution crumbled in late 2016 when it was revealed the Football League failed to convince the FA to switch the FA Cup to a mainly midweek competition.
A source said: “Changes are afoot and they may well be big changes. Put simply, the new Checkatrade Trophy has been a complete disaster.
“The EFL know it, the clubs know it, the managers hate being told who they can and cannot pick and the sponsors understandably won’t stand for a repeat next year. “There is a possibility that it could return to being a League One and League Two-only competition, but nothing is set in stone.” Unquestionably the experiment of introducing Premier League and Championship development sides has failed. Just one remains in the last eight, Swansea City U21s.
EMPTY SEATS: Fleetwood were among the clubs to close stands in the group stage AT THE FOREFRONT: EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey