The Checkatrade Trophy retains its controversial format this season that includes invited B-teams from the Premier League. Grant Mac from Internet Mariners tells us what they think about the competition and the boycott they're planning...
Grimsby Town fans have a bit of a reputation for campaigning.
First there was Operation Promotion in the summer of 2015 which saw the Mariners fans crowdfund their club’s promotion back to the Football League.
Then last season Operation Mariachi saw them hit the headlines again as they funded a Mexican band for their away trip to Barnet, determined to enjoy the game despite the London club banning inflatables in the away end.
The fans latest campaign is a little different though.
Last season, like at many other clubs, Town fans stayed away from Football League Checkatrade Trophy games in protest at the EFL’s changes to the competition, particularly the introduction of elite clubs’ U23 teams into the competition.
Like many other fans, the majority of Mariners supporters saw this as a first step to B-teams in the League, and therefore undermining of true competition and promotion/relegation in the FL pyramid.
To build on last season’s #BTeamBoycott organised by Twitter campaigners AgainstLeague3, the Mariners fans are organising a fans’ game to coincide with a Trophy fixture, with the intention of getting more football fans along to this alternative match.
Iain Biglin, the manager of Mariners fans team The Internet Mariners, explains:
“This season we are still behind the #BTeamBoycott but we want to keep the protest fresh and also give the fans something to get behind, rather than staying at home twiddling their thumbs.
"We love football, so what better than a game of football? We looked at the fixtures and saw that Doncaster Rovers are due to play at Blundell Park, so contacted their fans team Donny R’Sonists to float the idea.
"They were of the same mind and up for the challenge too so we set organising a match."
Co-organiser Alex Green, adds:
"It’s not all negative though. We all feel strongly about the Checkatrade Trophy, of course and want to do something about it, but also to do some good for our local communities.
"Because of this, all profits will be split between three local charities; Grimsby Town Disabled Supporters Club, Inspire TCI and Doncaster’s Bluebell Wood Childrens Hospice. We’re hoping that fans will understand why we’re doing this."
"Many clubs voted for the new format, persuaded by the EFL line that it is good for the game; that somehow giving the young players stockpiled by elite academies a competition to play in will somehow benefit the national team.
"Football League teams were promised financial incentives as sweeteners to get behind this but at the same time fined if young teams were fielded in the competition.
"The competition was devalued and the lower leagues treated like sparring partners for the bigger, richer clubs. Maybe our clubs feel pressured by the EFL into supporting this but we as fans aren’t willing to stand for it.
"It hurts to stay away from games but we have to see the bigger picture. If we let this go now then who knows what comes next. A Premier League with the ladder pulled up and no promotion or relegation; B and C teams in the lower leagues and smaller clubs forced out of business."
The game takes place on the evening of Tuesday 29 August at Lucarly's Sports Ground, Wilton Road, Humberston, Grimsby.