TRO­PHY TEASER

Could the Check a trade Tro­phy be in line for re­vamp?

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By Sam El­liott

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.

Un­happy

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.

Re­mains

“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.

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Images

EMPTY SEATS: Fleet­wood were among the clubs to close stands in the group stage AT THE FORE­FRONT: EFL chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Har­vey

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