The Foot­ball League Pa­per says...

The Football League Paper - - NEWS -

Sim­ple ideas can pep up the Tro­phy

AS THE Check­a­trade Tro­phy fi­nal takes place at Wem­b­ley this af­ter­noon, it’s a good time to re­flect on how the one-sea­son trial of the re­vamped com­pe­ti­tion has gone.

Be­fore the com­pe­ti­tion kicked off at the end of Au­gust, the EFL high­lighted the fact that prize money was go­ing to in­crease by more than 300 per cent to £1.95m.

EFL chief ex­ec­u­tive Shaun Har­vey said: “Along­side the fi­nan­cial in­creases, the new for­mat is in­tended to rein­vig­o­rate the com­pe­ti­tion as well as as­sist­ing with the de­vel­op­ment of the very best young play­ers in English foot­ball.”

So have young play­ers been given a chance? Ac­cord­ing to EFL sta­tis­tics, 27 per cent of play­ers in the start­ing XIs of this sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion were aged 21 or un­der and were English, which com­pares to 23 per cent in 2015/16 and 18 per cent in 2014/15.

This sug­gests that there has been some progress to­wards this ob­jec­tive. How­ever, the com­pe­ti­tion hasn’t cap­tured the at­ten­tion of sup­port­ers, many of whom be­lieve it has been de­val­ued by al­low­ing Premier League academy teams to take part.

League One and Two teams meet to dis­cuss the Check­a­trade Tro­phy’s fu­ture on April 11 and it ap­pears Har­vey is keen for the com­pe­ti­tion to con­tinue in its present for­mat, or with some tweaks, if his com­ments in the last week (see pages 4 and 5) are any­thing to go by.

If the tour­na­ment does con­tinue with a mix­ture of Premier League and Cham­pi­onship academy teams, here are a cou­ple of sug­ges­tions to im­prove it:

First, the EFL should in­sist that the academy teams are com­posed fully of un­der21 play­ers (this sea­son six of the start­ing XI had to be un­der-21). Sec­ond, EFL clubs should be al­lowed to play who­ever they choose. This sea­son they had to play ‘a min­i­mum of five first team play­ers’ or risk a fine.

Both these mea­sures would give more young­sters a chance to gain valu­able match ex­pe­ri­ence – and that’s some­thing pos­i­tive.

Don’t miss out!

WE’RE at the busi­ness end of the sea­son now and is­sues are be­gin­ning to be re­solved. To make sure you don’t miss a kick, stick with us for all the ups and down over the next month or so.

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