‘WE NEED TO FIELD STARS IN MAKING’
LUTON Town had an eventful run in this season’s Checkatrade Trophy, eventually losing to Oxford United in the semi-finals.
The Hatters were also fined £15,000 for breaking the competition’s rules in the group stage.
They breached Rule 7.3 – not starting with at least five players who started the league fixture immediately before or after the Trophy game, or the five players who had started the most league and cup matches to that point in the season.
Luton went with their youngsters and, ironically, picked up £20,000 in prize money after winning 2-1 at League One side Gillingham and beating Premier League West Brom’s Under-21s in their opening two matches.
The Hatters lost 3-1 at home against Millwall in their final group outing.
Sweet said: “The competition, as it was, either needed scrapping or re-inventing. The notion of lower league teams playing Premier League Under-21 teams is a good one from a footballing perspective. It helps our game. There are some benefits to come out of that.
“My concern is that lowerleague teams should be unrestricted in who they play, especially as the principle of the restructuring was to promote young talent.
“Our major beef with it right now is that we are unable to promote our youngsters without attracting heavy fines.”
Sweet suggests free admission for children and streaming of games to help boost the competititon’s profile and believes the Premier League also need to fully play their part.
He added: “They have paid their way to come in and I think they should pay more. It’s incredibly valuable for them. We are looking to redistribute football’s income and here’s a way of doing that. The one-year trial has been half successful and half unsuccessful. There is a lot to take from it and a lot to learn.”
LESSONS: Gary Sweet