12th Man – Checkatrade Trophy fiasco


The EFL Trophy has become a fiasco

Latics went out of the Checkatrade Trophy on Tuesday night after they fielded their Academy team against League Two Accrington Stanley.

Manager Paul Cook demonstrated his priorities by not risking first team players in a competition, which has been devalued and degraded by the inclusion of Premier League and Championship U21 teams in the last two seasons.

The Football League Trophy, which was previously only for League One and League Two teams, was once a valid chance for these teams to get to Wembley and to win a trophy.

However we could now see a farcical situation where Premier League Academy teams face each other in the final.

The League One and League Two clubs have effectively been given a financial bribe by Premier League clubs to allow their Academy teams into the Football League Trophy and in doing so have made the competition meaningless.

It is clear that the competition is now for the benefit of the rich Premier League clubs trying to develop their young players.

Many of the lower league clubs are struggling for financial survival and they have been bribed by increasing the prize money from £2m to £3m to continue to participate.

Many fans have vehemently opposed the change in the competition and have started a B Team Boycott campaign but the English Football League (EFL) have disregarded their opinions and scored a massive own goal by submitting to the demands of the Premier League.

Most football fans are against having Premier League U21 teams in the competition and they see it as the first steps in a move to introduce B teams into Leagues One and Two.

The influence of the Premier League over the Football League is increasingly oppressive.

The financial rewards available to Premier League clubs are ever increasing while the Football League clubs are limited to relative scraps of money from the top table as the divide increases.

A master and servant relationship is now developing and the Premier League’s demands on the lower league clubs are ever increasing.

There is already a drive by the top six teams in the Premier League to have a greater share of Premier League revenue and they would also like to have their B teams playing in the Football League.

The football authorities and in particular the EFL have alienated many football fans and have evidently lost the plot as far as helping their membership.

Average attendances in the EFL Trophy decreased by 56 per cent last season with the introduction of Academy teams. Tuesday’s attendance at the DW Stadium was only 1,473, which is a big drop from Latics’ previous years in the EFL Trophy.

Bradford City have an average attendance of over 20,000 for League One games but their fans similarly voted with their feet on Tuesday night and adopted the B Team Boycott, with only 931 people at their game with Rotherham United.

It is planned that the Checkatrade Trophy will continue next season with the inclusion of Premier League Academy teams. If this proves to be the case I would urge all football fans to continue the B Team Boycott and lobby for change.

I fully support Paul Cook’s decision to play an Academy team in the light of the ridiculous state of the competition. But sadly we’ve now been forced into a surreal situation where our football club is not bothered about winning football matches.

This article was first published in the Wigan Evening Post on Friday 10th November 2017.

About ianhaspinall

Communications specialist, Wigan Athletic fan & blogger, interested in music, arts & culture.
This entry was posted in Accrington Stanley, Checkatrade Trophy, EFL, Paul Cook, Wigan Athletic and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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