It’s hardly been the biggest football news story of the month, but have you seen the reports suggesting that Premier League clubs may soon be able to enter their U21 teams into the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy? What a farcical idea.
This isn’t the first time that these rumours have surfaced; in fact, whispers about a similar move were made just 12 months ago. It was an awful notion then and it’s equally awful now. I fail to fathom how it can be good news for anyone.
The U21 Development League, Youth FA Cup, UEFA Youth League and other competitions are more than enough to let the younger players mature. Besides, in spite of the common misconception, the most talented stars still find their way into senior football by the time they leave their teens. For those that don’t, Football League loans are always a fantastic option.
Playing against an often weakened Football League team isn’t going to help those players, which I’m assuming is the main focus of the plan. Similarly, clubs from League One or League Two aren’t going to gain too much from playing against those Development sides.
Worse still, it completely devalues the competition for the clubs and their supporters. This competition offers those fans a genuine hope of playing at Wembley. My local side, Southend, have reached the final and it brings a buzz around the local area. Let’s face it, no Chelsea or Manchester United fan is going to get excited about seeing their reserves play against Accrington Stanley; I mean, who are they?
Likewise, fans of Crewe aren’t going to be overly fussed about turning out on a midweek night to watch their team play a round two clash against a bunch of kids they’ve never heard of, regardless of what club’s emblem dons their kits.
The Football League trophy is a great competition as it is. It offers fans a genuine chance to dream, it offers financial support to those clubs in the lower leagues, and it gives the underdog a chance to clinch a domestic honour.
If it ain’t broke…
If you want to sign the petition against the suggestion, please do!