Before Christmas, the English Football League (EFL) hosted a Fan Forum at Wembley Stadium, focusing on the Checkatrade Trophy.
The Argyle Fans’ Trust sent a representative to participate and to glean information on this contentious competition.
Here is the report of the meeting:-
Around 30-35 people attended, but not necessarily one per club. There were probably 15-20 clubs represented. It was pointed out that certain supporters’ groups were boycotting the event.
The speakers were: Shaun Harvey (CEO of the EFL), Ian Holloway, Colin Murray (sports presenter), Stuart Donald (Owner of Sunderland FC), Joe Edwards (Chelsea development squad) and Andy Ambler (FA director of Professional Game Development).
The meeting was split into two parts.
Part 1 was more focused on the Checkatrade Trophy itself and included a Q&A with Shaun Harvey (CEO of the EFL).
Part 2 was a more general discussion.
PART 1. Checkatrade Trophy (CTT)
- a) the current situation
Comments by Shaun Harvey (SH):
* EFLs are behind the CTT and it was voted on by the clubs at the EFL Conference.
- The rebrand to the CTT is meant to give the Football League Trophy real purpose and must work for the EFL clubs and not just the academies. It’s all about creating opportunities for young players (someone pointed out Danny Simpson, Charlie Adam playing in the CTT and Stoke playing a side they paid £50million+ for. The response was “I bet the young players on the pitch loved playing with them”).
- League 1 & 2 sides banked £2.5million out of the CTT “Every side made money out of the competition last season”.
- Premier League clubs’ payment makes up for loss of gates. “Some would call that a false subsidy, call it that if you wish”.
- No EFL side wants Premier League B Teams in the EFL
- The CTT is a real competition…it ends in a day out at Wembley’
- “ I never want to see an all academy final”.
- When asked about the fans dislike of competition and lowly attendances: ”The fans don’t have to go, they have a choice and can vote with their feet if they want to”.
- b) what next for the CTT?
- SH: “The first year was problematic… so we took it to the clubs in the summer and the clubs said they wanted the money”.
- CTT will continue for foreseeable future in its current format.
- “There is a willingness for this format to continue”. He didn’t say who the willingness was from.
- There will be a new sponsor and thus a new name for the competition next year.
- I had to chuckle when at one point Ian Holloway said to a fan “Do I ever say anything I don’t mean?”
Not a lot to report on this really:
- Joe Edwards mentioned when PAFC played the Chelsea U23 ‘members of the Plymouth staff’ asked about the availability for a couple of their players, and thus it demonstrates that the CTT is a good showcase for young Premier League players to go out on loan.
- Overall, it was well worth going. It was an interesting and generally engaging event even though the productivity was limited. It was however, clearly a PR exercise.
- EFL officials made themselves available so, on another occasion, it would be worth having questions on other topics in advance.
- Contact details were swapped with other clubs reps.
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