WHAT NEXT FOR EFL PROBLEM CHILD?
EVER since the Football League Trophy was revamped and renamed last summer, it has taken a pounding from the critics.
Fans were unhappy with the fact that a competition which gave League One and Two clubs a chance to reach a Wembley cup final had been ‘devalued’ by allowing category one academy sides from Premier League clubs to enter. Many of them boycotted matches, causing tiny attendances.
League One and Two clubs felt let down because the Premier League giants turned down their invitations, meaning a number of Championship clubs got the call instead.
There was confusion over whether the invited sides were Under-21 or Under-23 sides – in fact, six of the starting XI had to be Under-21 – while the fact that prize money was massively increased (from £478,000 to £1.95m) was lost in the storm.
However, EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey, pictured right, told the BBC in midweek that the Checkatrade Trophy does have a future in its revamped format.
Speaking in the build-up to this afternoon’s all-League One final between Coventry City and Oxford
United, he said: “Ultimately the comparison was a competition previously where clubs were as interested in getting knocked out in the first round as they were in getting to the final.
“That can’t bode well for the longevity of the competition. What we have created gives us a real opportunity of using this competition for the benefit of our clubs, the benefit of young players in this country and, as we will see on Sunday, the benefit of in excess of 70,000 fans hoping to cheer their side to victory."
League One and Two clubs will discuss the future of the competition at a meeting on April 11.
We asked four experts – Peterborough director of football Barry Fry, Luton chief executive Gary Sweet, Grimsby director John Fenty and former Newport County boss Graham Westley – to give us their thoughts on the competition’s one-year trial and to tell us what should happen next…