Papers related to this competition, formerly know as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, were circulated late on and were only available to the three Grimsby Town board members attending the Football League conference while in Portugal.
The proposals and rule changes for this meeting contained insufficient information to form a clear judgment from the papers alone.
Relating to this resolution further information was provided at the meeting, which included in summary.
• The competition was suffering falling attendances
• Some clubs complained of losing money
• Some clubs have not been taking the competition seriously
• Sponsorship would not be renewed
• A new sponsor is required to be found
The EFL promoted heavily the fact that the competition needs freshening up to help drive up attendances and attract a new sponsor.
The proposals were as follows.
• Invited 16, U21 Premiership Teams into the competition
• They will introduce £1million towards the prize money
• They will not be awarded any of the prize money for progression
• They will not claim their full share of the gate receipts and in early rounds will not claim any part of it
• The gate receipts will not be claimed and will be returned to a pot to be shared by all L1 and L2 clubs
• They will not claim travel/ accommodation expenses at away games
• The competition will be played at Premiership first team grounds as drawn
• It will would be a one-year pilot only
There was considerable comment that the Premiership is pulling the EFL’s chain as one member described it. This led to an assurance from the Football League's CEO, Shaun Harvey, broadly saying.
“The solidarity payment from the Premiership is now fixed and not reliant on doing a deal. This proposal is a matter of self-interest in an effort to keep the competition viable, alive and attractive to a new sponsor”.
The Premiership provides freely substantial financial backing in a solidarity payment to clubs in the EFL, understood to be in the region of £135 million.
These proposals were very well received, and there was no dissent or sustained debate from any clubs, but it does appear that a small number did vote against the resolution
John Fenty, personally asked the CEO of the EFL - Is this the thin end of the wedge regarding progressive Premiership involvement in the wider competition? Assurances were received that this was not the case and it was stressed that there is no movement to introduce Premiership teams into the new configuration being debated, which suggests the introduction of a new division to make four leagues of 20 teams. That separate issue will be debated at next year’s meeting and any move to alter the structure of the EFL will require 90% of clubs to be in favour.
Accepting that our three directors attending, were fully supportive of the one-year pilot. The resolution was overwhelmingly carried by L1 and L2 clubs..
The club has noted the considerable backlash and strong dissatisfaction emanating from fans of all League 1 and clubs against this decision, which will be fed back to the EFL for their consideration.