The Checkatrade Trophy has become a laughing stock in recent years.
The introduction of U23 sides and youth teams has been met with fierce resistance, leading to fans voting with their feet.
Many clubs have introduced initiatives to try and keep the numbers up. Oldham let U16’s in for free, Bolton and Millwall reduced prices down to £5, and Mansfield even tried handing out free beer! All these efforts were complete failures, as the fans have now all but given up on this competition. The only real draw of this competition remains a potential trip to Wembley, but this is not enough.
The so-called ‘B-team boycott’ has gathered momentum, with the latest round of games breaking records at many clubs for low attendances.
Too many games and too many rule changes have completely ruined the competition.
The introduction of small groups, I thought, was a great idea but how can a non-knockout game go to penalties? How can you lose a game on penalties but still get a point?
What a joke.
And worst of all are the youth teams. The concept of which is to get the young guns from the bigger clubs playing against adults in competitive matches.
Last year saw Leicester field a side worth 50 million, including a young starlet called Robert Huth, keep an eye out for him in the future. It saw Chelsea play a player that just the day before had played in the Champions League and last week, Charlie Adam (30 years old) played for Stoke U23’s.
A twelve-year-old could sit down for 1 hour and redesign the competition better than it’s current format.
What do the clubs want? A chance to rotate players, giving game time to fringe players, and a bit more revenue.
What do the fans want? Competitive games, in a competition taken seriously by all.
So what’s the answer? Keep it simple.
- Leagues one and two only.
2. Keep the regional group stage, as this guarantees 3 games and allows clubs to plan promotions.
3. Penalty shootouts only in knock out games, and only after extra time has been played. Bring back golden goal if you really want to have a ‘gimmick’.
The competitions reputation is damaged almost to an unrepairable level. The Football League must act immediately if they want to save this competition. If not, it will be time to say goodbye once and for all to the Checkatrade Trophy.