Rob Fielding thinks that any decision to allow Premier League B sides to play in the Johnstones Paint Trophy is stupid.
Rob Fielding writes…
It may have been known by its sponsors’ names over the years – the Sherpa Van Trophy, the Autoglass Trophy and currently the Johnstones’ Paint Trophy but perhaps it’s worth remembering that the official name of the tournament is the Football League Trophy.
It therefore seems bizarre that Football League clubs should even countenance the idea of allowing Premier League “B” sides into the competition. Recent press reports suggest that the majority of Football League clubs have accepted the proposal – but I would imagine that the Premier League with its riches (and in particular the ability to withhold the much-needed “solidarity” payments to League clubs) had some influence on the decision.
It seems that (sadly) the Premier League clubs are concerned with, well, the Premier League clubs and want to allow their youngsters to develop by playing them in the Football League Trophy. But for those of us who support Football League clubs, it’s a stupid, unworkable idea.
It will dilute the Trophy to make it even more meaningless. The Trophy is already derided thanks to low crowds, weakened teams and lack of interest. However, if you’re good enough (or lucky enough) to progress in it, its rewards can be many.
Who can forget Vale’s first visit (and win) at Wembley stadium, which was thanks to their Autoglass Trophy run? Or the memorable day at Cardiff’s Millennium stadium when the club won the LDV Vans Trophy? For the smaller clubs, the Football League Tophy represents perhaps the best and possibly only change of playing in a proper cup final.
I’d be very happy for Port Vale to reach the final again – but if they do, it needs to be against League opponents, not the Manchester United youth side.
It’s called the Football League Trophy for a reason and Premier League clubs would do well to remember that.