The Football League Paper says...
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.