The Football League Trophy competition is rapidly losing credibility and changes are needed to keep interest in the contest alive.
The Football League Trophy has been relatively kind to Port Vale in recent years. Last season, there was some lucrative group stage wins and even though the much-hyped game against neighbours Stoke City was dogged by violence, it ultimately brought in more revenue to the club. This season has seen a similar story with Port Vale making steady progress through the group stages.
The Valiants’ progress is such that the next game in the competition (against Newcastle’s B side) is effectively a dead rubber. The only benefit for the Valiants would be that a win would see them top the group. It will be interesting to see just how many people come to Vale Park for the spectacle – I strongly suspect it won’t be very many at all.
Most fans will probably opt to stay at home in the warmth. One can hardly blame them. If you do, you may want to combine listening to the game with a visit betting sites, such as ComeOn Betting. They offer a range of casino sites to perk your interest.
In a recent interview, former EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said he had wanted to hold cup draws in space. The natural step, you might think, given the lack of atmosphere that continues to pervade his pet competition. It was Harvey who came up with the hairbrained idea of inviting B teams to play in this contest.
The Trophy consistently lays on three-figure gatherings and those that creep over the 1,000 mark, and few that make you think: wow, people are really buying into this.
The competition has been met with such apathy that clubs such as Vale have recorded their lowest-ever attendance figures in the revamped tournament. Vale’s match against Middlesbrough B in 2018 drew just 554 hardy souls to the ground.
Vale have a proud history in the competition, winning the Trophy on two occasions so it’s sad that the tournament has degraded to such an extent that hardly anyone seems to care about it anymore.
The tournament is clearly struggling to capture people’s imagination. Just look at what former Sunderland manager Jack Ross had to say earlier this season. He commented: “Tuesday for me at the moment is an irrelevance because the competition pales into insignificance compared to what we need to be concentrating and focusing on this year.”
The Valiants can only play what is put in front of them but this sorry mess of low attendances and dead fixtures is solely of the Football League’s making.
“It is important that we listen to supporters,” said the EFL’s communications director Mark Rowan this summer. Well, It’s high time they gave more credibility to a competition which is meant to be played by Football League clubs (the clue is in the competition’s title – the Football League Trophy). The League could start not forcing lower league clubs with proud histories to play senior fixtures against academy sides from clubs in higher leagues. In my opinion that would be a good start to reviving this much-maligned tournament.