‘NOTHING WRONG WITH OLD FORMAT’
FOOTBALL League Paper columnist Graham Westley fundamentally disagrees with the idea of inviting clubs from outside Leagues One and Two to take part in the Checkatrade Trophy.
“The idea of having the Premier League academy sides involved is ludicrous,” he said. “The Checkatrade Trophy is the opportunity for the havenots to go to Wembley.
“Players in the lower leagues have very few opportunities in their careers to play at Wembley. I’ve been there twice as a manager and it’s an amazing experience. I don’t think it should be treated lightly.
“I don’t think it’s right the Premier League should be dipping their feet in it. Clubs at a higher level say their kids need a chance, but if they are good enough they will get loaned out and get oppor- Two or three games in the Checkatrade Trophy isn’t going to make or break a career.
“In fact, the competition could end up being counter-productive. It could discourage players from going on loan because they’ve got a chance to get to Wembley, but they would be much better off playing league games.
“In addition, how can you have a competition in which League One and Two clubs have to play five players who appeared in their previous league game or the next one, but Premier League clubs can play all their Under21s? It’s double standards.” The former Stevenage, Preston and Peterborough boss took over at New- County when they had lost their opening two matches in the competition and couldn’t qualify for the next round. They still had one group match left to play, though.
“It was a dead rubber and AFC Wimbledon brought a scratch side,” he said. “We beat them, but there was no-one in the stadium and it was a waste of time. A competition that creates dead-rubber games is a waste of space.
“Personally, I would take the competition back to the way it was, a straight knock-out. There was nothing wrong with it. I don’t think the changes have added anything.”
UNIMPRESSED: Graham Westley