SHOW US THE MONEY!
PETERBOROUGH United director of football Barry Fry believes the bulk of League One and Two clubs are keen to dump academy sides from the Checkatrade Trophy – unless the Premier League splashes the cash.
This term’s one-season trial was blighted by dismal attendances, and Fry believes the EFL’s lower division clubs could be once bitten, twice shy.
“I think we were led up the garden path a bit this year,” he said. “I’m not sure if it’s the Premier League or Football League’s fault.
“We thought the Manchester Uniteds, Manchester Citys, Liverpools, Tottenhams and Arsenals were all coming in. We felt that, if the top clubs in the country came in in the early rounds, albeit with their Under-21s, it would boost the gates and interest.
“It might not have got through last year if the clubs had known they weren’t going to take part.
“I believe the majority of clubs don’t want the Under-21 sides in the competition next season. However, if the Premier League want it that much and offer the clubs £50,000 each, that’s going to change their mind.
“All the clubs are trying to stay afloat and everyone would want that money. If it’s the same format with the same money as this year, I don’t think it will get voted in.”
Fry believes there is also another souce of frustration for the lower-tier clubs.
“I think the clubs are upset with the rules about the number of players they have to play from their previous league game (five).
“Like the Premier League sides that want to play their kids to help their development, so do Football League clubs.
“More and more League One and Two clubs are developing young players – and what better competition to blood them. It’s very importat to play against Premier League or Championship opponents.”
Yet Fry is certain about one thing: he wants the much-criticised competition to continue.
“First and foremost, I’m a million, million per cent behind this trophy, whether it’s Auto Windscreens Shield, Johnstone’s Paint Trophy or Checkatade Trophy.
“When I was at Birmingham, we got to the final and played in front of 76,000 people, with 50,000 Bluenoses.
“It was an amazing occasion. (Birmingham beat Carlisle 1-0 after sudden-death extra-time in that 1995 final).
“A few years ago at Peterborough, we got to the final and beat Chesterfield 3-1. We took 25,000 fans. I’m going to this Sunday’s final and there will probably be 70-75,000.
“I’m a great lover of the competition. It gives all League One and Two clubs a chance to go to Wembley for a cup final.”
Crisis-hit Coventry City take on Oxford United in an allLeague One final at Wembley this afternoon and Fry is hoping it gives the Sky Blues a shot in the arm.
“They’ve had an awful season, it’s a club in turmoil, but they’re taking 40-odd thouthe sand fans to Wembley. What a dream that is,” he said.
“If I was an investor and looking out to see 45,000 Coventry fans, I would be saying ‘That’s a club I want to buy, there’s the potential to do something’.
“I hope there is someone out there with the money that wants to buy the club. Coventry have got a great history.”
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THUMBS UP: Peterborough director of football Barry Fry, with chairman Darragh MacAnthony (left), believes the EFL Trophy is a great opportunity for lower-tier clubs