U’s outvoted on future format of Checkatrade

Low attendances were a feature of the early rounds of the competition.

Oxford United were overwhelmingly outvoted over the structure of next season’s Checkatrade Trophy.

Teams were given three options to choose from for the 2017/18 competition and voted overwhelmingly to keep the current format – with some key amendments.

The U’s, who have finished as the runner-up in the competition for the last two seasons, were one of 11 clubs that wanted to revert to the previous layout.

The EFL Trophy was overhauled this season in an experiment that included 16 ‘invited sides’ from the Championship and the Premier League.

SkyBet League One and Two clubs met on Thursday last week to discuss the competition which was marred in the early rounds by low attendances and fan boycotts.

The Yellows lost to Coventry City in this season’s final in front of nearly 75,000 fans at Wembley last month, but voted to revert to the previous format of the competition.

Clubs could vote for one of three outcomes: to keep the current format with amendments, revert to a 48-team knockout competition or abandon the tournament altogether.

The EFL said 66.6 per cent of clubs voted for the first option so the format – with some key changes – will be retained for seasons 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Oxford United chairman Darryl Eales said: “We can confirm that we were one of the 11 clubs that voted to revert to a 48-team knock-out competition.

“However, it is a democratic process and we will abide by the vote.”

Key changes to the current system include a more relaxed selection criteria, making invited academy teams play all of their group matches away from home and more prize money will be awarded, between just under £2m to £3m.

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We committed at the outset of this season’s competition to conduct a full and comprehensive review of the competition and, importantly, give our clubs the ability to ensure they make the key decisions regarding where we take the competition in 2017/18 and beyond.

“After asking clubs in advance for some initial thoughts on the competition, today [last Thursday] was the next stage of the process and I’m delighted we were able to have such a full and frank exchange of views that will now assist the executive in refining a final proposal that our clubs will now vote on.”
Mark Robins, manager of trophy-holders Coventry City, said: “The Checkatrade Trophy has been an invaluable experience for those players at an under-21 level to participate in senior football, it will certainly aid their development moving forward.

“We won the competition with what was primarily a young team, and if you can get to Wembley and experience a fixture in front of that many fans at the national stadium, it can only be a positive.”

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