SHOW US THE MONEY!

The Football League Paper - - NEWS - By John Lyons

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.

Frus­tra­tion

“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.”

FI­NAL PRE­VIEW – SEE CEN­TRE-PAGES

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

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

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