Statement from Mark Catlin
As supporters are fully aware, this season’s Checkatrade Trophy has been met with widespread criticism from fans and general negative publicity.
However, it is important to remember that the previous incarnation of the competition was – even without the inclusion of category one under-21 sides – suffering from a year-on-year decline.
Having reviewed various scenarios, there is an argument to suggest that there is no longer any need for this tournament, although it seems a shame to take away a potential route to Wembley for League One and Two clubs.
For example, I assume that Coventry supporters are already relishing their trip to the national stadium in April.
Over the coming weeks, talks will be taking place regarding the future structure of the competition.
The final decision will ultimately be made following a vote involving all clubs, but I would like to have a clear idea of the general views of Pompey fans – and any other supporters who have an opinion on this subject.
The way I see it, the options are:
- Abandon the competition. Clubs can vote for this, but as mentioned previously, to take a possible Wembley cup final place away from League One and Two clubs seems counter-productive.
- Return to the previous format of a straight knock-out competition involving just League One and Two clubs.
- Carry on with the same format as this season, however unpopular this seemed to be among supporters.
Having spoken with many fans on this subject during the course of the season, the biggest complaint made to me was the ‘dual standards’ applied, with regards to League One and Two clubs receiving fines for fielding an ‘under strength’ side, while the invited Category One clubs were exempt from this.
With this in mind, would a fourth option of allowing Category One under-21 sides to enter, as long as League One and Two clubs were not fined for fielding ‘under strength’ teams, make the competition more attractive and fairer.
At least League One and Two clubs would then be allowed to decide for themselves if they wanted to prioritise the competition and, as our own entry into the Premier League Cup has shown, there does seem to be an appetite from fans to see our younger/fringe players in competitive action.
The issue the EFL would have with this is trying to ‘sell’ it to the sponsors, while the Category One sides who are putting money into the competition may also be reluctant to accept.
Click here to let us know what you think about the future of the competition in our supporter survey.
I have to stress that all I can do with this information is use it to assist the club in the decision-making process and the views of our fans might not necessarily be the same as other clubs.
There is also a possibility that some options might not be achievable by the EFL – such as option four.
However, at the very least this survey should give us a general idea of what fans think would be the best solution moving forward.
Portsmouth FC CEO