The FA have shown absolutely no respect, the Football League should feel cheated…
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Posted by Featured Articles | Published on July 28, 2016
Back in April, I was one of the hundreds-of-thousands of people who tuned in to watch the English Football League Trophy Final, formerly known as the ‘Johnstone’s Paint Trophy’. It encountered a thrilling game between Barnsley and Oxford United; after recovering from a goal down, Barnsley came out 3-2 winners. A staggering 59,230 people turned out for that game at Wembley, around 35,000 Oxford fans and 25,000 Barnsley fans respectively.
As a season ticket holder at both a Premier League and National League club, I keep a very close eye on most of our footballing pyramid and I think I speak for the majority when I say that we are extremely lucky to have such a well-structured and well supported pyramid. I don’t think there is anywhere else in the world where 200 people would turn out for a 7th or 8th tier game. And just to give you a quick idea, the 7th tier of English football is formed of the Ryman and Evo-Stik leagues.
So why have the FA deemed it necessary to include 10 Premier League U23 sides in the EFL Trophy? Bonkers.
It shows a huge lack of respect towards not only to the Football League clubs but also the supporters. I mean, the FA have completely devalued one of the highlights of the Football League season. This is a competition that, in 2015, produced the second largest crowd in Europe on that particular weekend, only bettered by the El Classico. Bristol City and Walsall managed to sell 72,000 tickets between them.
Imagine if an U23 side wins the competition, it would be a farce. It would defeat the whole point of the trophy. Worse still, imagine if both finalists were U23 clubs, it would be scandalous. Do you really think 50,000 people would turn out to watch Swansea U23’s VS Stoke U23’s? Not a chance. Actually, do you think anyone would really care about Swansea U23’s VS Stoke U23’s? Probably not.
The club I support, Crystal Palace, weren’t invited to play in this because our academy isn’t category 1. However, it doesn’t faze me, I wouldn’t want us to be a part of this, I would be ashamed and embarrassed if our U23’s were potentially ruining the chances of a Football League club reaching Wembley, not something they get to do too often. Imagine being a Morecambe fan and being denied the chance to play at Wembley because West Brom’s U23s beat you in the Semi-finals. You’d think it was a disgrace (And you wouldn’t be far wrong).
Personally, I can’t actually see what this move will genuinely achieve, who is it meant to benefit? The FA being the FA, obviously themselves. It doesn’t aid the Football League clubs and it doesn’t raise the profile of the already prominent EFL Trophy. It doesn’t make the competition more exhilarating and it certainly doesn’t make me want to watch it more. Why are the governing bodies trying to fix things that aren’t broken? Deal with some real issues in football.
These are real football clubs with real passionate fans, they’re not test dummies, they’re not guinea pigs. They don’t need Premier League academies in order to help them tick over. This is just another nail in the Football League’s coffin.
Just where will the FA stop?
The FA have shown absolutely no respect, the Football League should feel cheated.