Checkatrade Trophy: how we voted
Last week Sky Bet League One and League Two clubs overwhelmingly supported proposals to allow the continued involvement of 16 invited sides in the Checkatrade Trophy.
The competition was heavily criticised by supporters for the introduction of 16 Under-21 sides from Premier League and Championship clubs as well as the restrictive selection regulations.
At the outset of the Checkatrade Trophy trial last summer, the EFL were committed to giving the 48 clubs the opportunity to determine the competition’s future format.
Our vote was cast earlier this month and we’re keen to respond to fans’ questions to the announcement.
Following a period of consultation in April, clubs from League One and League Two were asked to vote on three options:
- Retaining the current format with amendments
- Reverting to a 48-team knock-out competition
- Abandoning the Checkatrade Trophy altogether
In the end 66.6% of clubs who voted did so for Option One and as a result, the format – with some key amendments – will be retained for the 2017-18 and 2018-19 campaigns.
Cheltenham Town voted in favour for Option One, retaining the current format with amendments for the next two years.
The club also voted for all the income to be prize money, but this was defeated in favour of a £20,000 participation fee.
We were also in favour of the Category 1 teams to remain mostly Under-21 (as opposed to Under-23) and this was passed narrowly.
Clubs will still have to field six Under-21 players as opposed to fielding Under-23 sides as they do in the Premier League 2 competition.
There is also an extra £1million in prize money but how this will be divided between the clubs has not been finalised.
One of the main concerns for supporters was the prospect of the competition becoming the back door to B teams appearing in the EFL.
Had the clubs not been given assurances at the meeting that this is not the case then they would not have voted in favour of it.
Another was the draw, which saw Gary Johnson's side placed in the Northern Section with matches against Blackpool, Bolton Wanderers and Everton.
Next season this will be revised so there's a greater chance of more local fixtures.
“I am delighted at the outcome of the vote,” said Chairman Paul Baker.
“The prize money was significant for us last season and it could be even more so next season, given the big increase.
“This is becoming a really important competition with a real opportunity of a Wembley Final, and the guaranteed £20,000 participation fee is great news too.
“I think with intelligent pricing and promotion we can make this competition a real success for us next season.”
The Robins Trust first discussed the changes to the competition with its members back in November at its AGM.
And last month a group of six Cheltenham Town supporters represented the Robins Trust at the EFL Fans’ Forum to share their concerns.
The event at Ashton Gate was attended by representatives from all the South West clubs, EFL Communication Director Mark Rowan, Fixtures Officer Paul Snellgrove and former Premier League referee Chris Foy.
Predictably it drew plenty of debate and the panel both captured and acknowledged all of it on the night, recognising the divisive nature of the changes last season and the task ahead.
Cheltenham supporters aired their concerns about the scheduling of matches, their place in the northern section and the possibility of B Teams ultimately joining the EFL.
Fixture flexibility out of international breaks was also raised, and again the EFL said that they had taken that into account.
Robins Trust member Tarran Wilson was one of the six supporters at the event.
“The new format was for me, enjoyable,” he said.
“It enabled us to face some different teams for a decent price and could have taken us to some new grounds. The games were also entertaining.
“However our allocation in the Northern Section was quite frankly silly but we made them aware of this and they told us that they had taken our feedback on board.”
• The Robins Trust are meeting tonight to discuss its future and all supporters are welcome. It’s an opportunity, among other things, to discuss last week’s announcement. It’s being held at the LCI Rail Stadium and gets underway at 7.45pm.