Brian Caldwell's thoughts on the changes to the competitionAt last week’s EFL summer conference it was agreed that there would be changes to the EFL Trophy for next season’s competition.
The main talking point has been the decision to include 16 Premier League U21 sides into the competition for a one year trial period.
Central to the competition will be the introduction of a new group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams. The top two teams from the group will progress to the knockout stages with the eventual final being staged at Wembley Stadium.
With a lot of opinions already raised on the changes Town’s CEO Brian Caldwell can see both sides of the argument and will be monitoring the one year trial with caution.
“I can see both sides of this if I’m totally honest but can understand the concerns about U21 teams from the Premier League getting involved in the EFL competition”, said Brian.
“I can also see the argument about trying to refresh it and rebrand it and try to do something to refresh it and do something a little different to make it better.
“It is only for one season and that gives me faith that the decision is not set in stone and is a trial for a year because the last thing we want to do is have Premier League U21 teams in our league.
“The reason the Premier League teams are trying to do this in my opinion is due to the changes in the loan system so they will be looking for their U21 players to get competitive games.
“The loan system changes this season so that it will only be standard loans which will restrict the amount of players the Premier League clubs will want to send out as the loans will run from window to window with no recall.”
Historically the interest in the EFL Trophy games doesn’t increase until the later stages of the competition see the clubs closing in on a Wembley final. Next season will see the possibility of playing games at the Premier League side’s main stadium.
“My understanding is that if you play an U21 team you have to play them at their registered ground which could be an added attraction”, he said.
“It is one we need to be careful of and monitor it, it is for one season and is a trial and as an outsider, as I haven’t been to any of these games yet, it seems to be a competition that has never seemed to be too important until the later stages.
“Anything that could improve the competition we have to look at but whether this is the right thing to do only time will tell over the course of this season.”
One of the main concerns from fans has been their view that this could be a stealth way of Premier League U21 sides playing in the actual EFL, but this is something Brian can’t see happening.
“It’s not something I feel would work and I don’t think we will ever get to that stage”, said Brian.
Full details of the competition are still being finalised in regards to strength of sides, extra time etc.
In the League 1 meeting Shrewsbury Town voted against the proposals and we will monitor the one year trial period with much interest.
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