Northampton Town Supporters’ Trust has been following with interest the developments concerning the new EFL Trophy format.
Firstly, the Trust would like to place on record its disappointment at the lack of consultation with supporters over the proposed changes.
It seems at times that football’s governing bodies forget that it is the supporters that are the true heartbeat of the game, not sponsors or football bigwigs.
Although it’s clear that the EFL Trophy (formerly the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) was hardly thriving, it seems there was next to no effort to engage with fans to see if they felt the proposed changes would entice more supporters to go to matches – even less to find out whether it could actually reduce attendances.
Even poorer in this whole saga is the execution from organisers. We find it incomprehensible that the proposed inclusion of Premier League academy sides was put forward as the format without guarantees from the supposed ‘bigger clubs’ that they would be taking part.
That clubs including Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Arsenal indicated they did not wish to participate just days before the draw shows how woefully under prepared and ill-thought these proposals were.
Having said all this, the Trust has come to the conclusion not to call for an outright boycott. We simply do not feel it is our role or our right to pressure fans not to attend a game, and we have to be mindful of an entire fanbase - and that some will simply enjoy watching a game of football on a midweek evening.
Neither do we consider it prudent to advocate something that would harm the football club’s current income stream. If people do want to take a stand against the competition, we would urge them to consider a walkout in the style of Portsmouth Supporters’ Trust, who will be walking out as soon as the kick-off whistle is blown having purchased a ticket.
Simply put, fans – as always – should have a free choice as to whether they wish to boycott the competition. We understand and support the views of those who feel so strongly about this that they wish to vote with their feet. Equally, we are respectful of those who just want to watch as much football as they want. In the end, attendances will determine whether this trial has been a success or not.
Let us reiterate this however. The Trust is completely against any B teams entering the football league season, and we are comforted that chairman Kelvin Thomas indicated earlier on in pre-season that he would vote against any such proposals in the future.