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 The revamped EFL Trophy

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Tgwu

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PostSubject: The revamped EFL Trophy   Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:02 am

The revamped EFL Trophy is a complete and utter failure – and here’s why by John Ashdown

Attendances

There is no greater indicator of what has at best been apathy but has mostly been outright hostility to the changes than the numbers going through the turnstiles – or, more accurately, the numbers not going through the turnstiles.

Most of the lowest attendances have involved the visit of the Premier League and Championship sides. Only 392 fans were at Highbury for Fleetwood’s game against Blackburn. A hardy 457 were in The Hive for Barnet against Norwich. Swansea played in front of 461 at AFC Wimbledon. The attendances at Stevenage v Brighton (486), Grimsby v Leicester (609), Morecambe v Stoke (686), Cambridge v Middlesbrough (693) and Colchester v Southampton (791) demonstrate the lack of appetite fans of lower league clubs have for the introduction of the kids from the top two tiers. Portsmouth recorded their lowest crowd of the post-war era – 1,355 – when Reading visited, Port Vale had the second-lowest crowd in the club’s history (1,025) for Mansfield’s visit last month.
New EFL Trophy sparks withdrawals, anger and apathy before a ball is kicked
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On Tuesday Bristol Rovers visit Pompey in Southern Section Group A. Both sides still have a live chance of reaching the next round. This week lack of interest meant Bristol Rovers Supporters Club cancelled their away coach service for the match for the first time in almost 40 years. Rovers have had some pretty dark times in those 40 years – not least their relegation out of the Football League in 2013-14 and subsequent season in the Conference – but not in all that time have they cancelled their away travel service.

It is true that previous attendances in the early stages of the competition were not exactly stellar – in the very first edition in 1983-84 just 403 turned out to see Halifax v Darlington in the first round – but they have surely never been this consistently low.

Criteria confusion

There has been some confusion as to the exact nature of the Premier League and Championship sides involved. Leicester (and others) list their fixtures under Development Squad, while Stoke City (and others) place their Checkatrade Trophy results in their Under-23 section. Derby County are among several teams who list their Checktrade Trophy fixtures entirely separately. The EFL, meanwhile, lists all teams as under-21s in their results.

The age-qualification criterion is perfectly clear – Premier League and Championship sides must name six players in their starting XI who were under 21 at the end of June – but it does differ from that for Under-23/Development squad football, which those players play week-to-week. It is a mess in part born out of changes to Premier League youth football made in the summer. And, of course, the fact that the rules allow a largely “Under-21” side to end a game with eight players in their 30s on the pitch.

Selection issues

Thanks to the difference in criteria, the Premier League and Championship sides taking part exist only for this tournament and their strength relies on the individual club’s approach to the competition. Norwich’s Under-23s, for example, are bottom of Premier League Two, Division Two, but their Checktrade Trophy team have won their two games 6-1 and 5-0.

The 25-year-old Portugal international striker Nélson Oliveira was among their goalscorers in the 5-0 win against Barnet, while the Canaries have also used the opportunity to blood the goalkeeper Paul Jones, a 30-year-old veteran of a mere 370 league appearances. Two of their goals in the 6-1 win over Peterborough were scored by the 28-year-old French midfielder Tony Andreu.

Reading have benefited from goals in both their fixtures so far from the 25-year-old French striker Joseph Mendes. Stoke’s only goal in the competition was scored by that young whippersnapper and top prospect for the future Charlie Adam, 30. Yohan Benalouane, a 29-year-old £6m signing from Atalanta, has started both of Leicester’s games. Quite how that fits into the pledge of the EFL chief executive, Shaun Harvey, that the changes to the competition would “help us deliver more and better home-grown players which will deliver benefits to the national team and domestic league football at all levels” is anyone’s guess.

Other sides – notably West Ham, Middlesbrough and Chelsea – have named exclusively youth XIs. All three are already eliminated and face dead rubbers this week.

One rule for some

The rules for team selection are contradictory. Teams from Leagues One and Two must name a minimum of five “first team” players in the starting XI – five who played in the team’s last league match, five who will play in the next league game or the club’s five highest appearance-makers of the season.

So one set of teams is required to start with young players, another set faces punishment – a £5,000 fine – if they do so. Luton could face such a fine after making 11 changes to their side for both Checktrade Trophy games. The EFL have told the club they will “consider the matter after the group stage has been completed”. The Hatters manager, Nathan Jones, has said he will stump up the cash himself if needs be. “If anyone wants to fine us for that group of youngsters, I’ll pay the fine myself, because it would be an absolute disgrace,” he said after the 2-0 win over West Brom.

The daftness of the rules – which, it should be pointed out, are not new this season – leads to situations such as Bradford City substituting their goalkeeper Colin Doyle after three minutes of their game against Bury. “I thought he had a poor 45 seconds,” said the Bantams’ assistant manager, Kenny Black.

This is the kicker.

League One and Two clubs and their fans quite rightly do not consider themselves second-class citizens of the football world. This format treats them as such.

https://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2016/nov/08/efl-trophy-football-league-failure
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Les Miserable

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PostSubject: Re: The revamped EFL Trophy   Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:28 am

Well put that man, it's a shambles, scrap it or return to the old format. I can honestly say that Tuesday night was the first time ever that I haven't looked for or cared about an Argyle result.
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PostSubject: Re: The revamped EFL Trophy   Thu Nov 10, 2016 10:36 am

Les Miserable wrote:
Well put that man, it's a shambles, scrap it or return to the old format. I can honestly say that Tuesday night was the first time ever that I haven't looked for or cared about an Argyle result.

I honestly still don't know what it is.

I do know someone that went, purely to tick the ground off having given up all hope of ever seeing argyle play there

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