Last week’s Telegraph report that the Premier League was in negotiations to introduce up to 16 of their clubs’ U21 teams into the Football League Trophy (aka Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) will have sounded vaguely familiar to many fans…
That’s because it was also floated in March 2015 as an alternative to Greg Dyke’s proposal to insert a new “League 3” - made up of Premier League B-teams - between League 2 and the Conference. League 3 prompted a large backlash from supporters and the Football League. It was subsequently ditched.
The Telegraph’s chief football writer Sam Wallace broke the story and he says many top-flight clubs still like the idea of B-teams, although it is now politically toxic. “But if there is no way that the Premier League’s pro B-team clubs could persuade the others, they have designs on other competitions,” argues Wallace.
And that’s where the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy comes in – with some Premier League clubs apparently seeing it as an opportunity to continue to hoard young talent while giving them more senior competitive football.
It’s difficult to see how this could be done in the competitions current format – as The Ugly Game (@uglygame) points out, more than three-quarters of the competing teams last season played two games or fewer in the JPT. 20+ clubs only played one game.
The idea to introduce up to 16 PL clubs’ U21 teams into the JPT might sound familiar. Do you back it?
Hardly much development time for young academy players although, as Southend United fan Iain Macintosh argues in The Set Pieces, why should he care about developing Premier League talent? (Warning! His piece does use quite a few naughty words. Think Trains, Planes and Automobiles.)
Macintosh writes: “And do not, for shame, speak of helping the England team. You have no interest in that and you never have. You bicker with the England team over every match they play, you resent their use of your players. Do not dare tell us that you’ve suddenly come over all patriotic.
“The motivation for this is simple. It is greed. You have proved too feckless and incompetent to manage your resources. You have scooped up so many youngsters that you don’t know what to do with them. You stockpile them and they stagnate and you don’t know what to do. And so once again you seek to squeeze the life out of us for a marginal gain on your balance sheet.”
As twohundredpercent highlights no club from the bottom two divisions in the Football League has ever reached an FA Cup final. The JPT gives those clubs a tournament of their own. A chance for a big day out at Wembley. “A small moment in the sun for those who spend most of their existences in the shade,” as twohundredpercent eloquently puts it.
When the FA Chairman’s England Commission came up with the League 3 idea we consulted our members and quickly came to the conclusion that the vast majority of fans opposed the proposal. You can see the FSF’s full response here – section 5 covers feeder clubs which we absolutely oppose.
Initial soundings from our members and groups such as Against League 3 are that these U21/JPT proposals would be opposed by supporters at all levels of the game.
“There is clear opposition amongst lower league teams. While the JPT is not seen as the most glamorous or exciting competition, it is 'ours' and we, generally, don't want the PL anywhere near it. It presents a possible path to Wembley for the less well off. I would oppose it in the same way, and for the same reasons, that we opposed the whole misguided League 3 proposal,” says Tony Roome, Leyton Orient fan and FSF National Council member.
- Let us know your thoughts via firstname.lastname@example.org (use the email header JPT) and make a note in your diary for Saturday 16th/Sunday 17th July – that’s when the Supporters Summit and FSF AGM will take place at Wembley. If these proposals are formalised by the Premier League and Football League we’re sure the subject will be high on the agenda.
Thanks to Action Images for the image used in this blog.