Southend United Chief Executive has made a statement to supporters regarding the proposed changes to the EFL trophy format
Southend United can confirm that the club voted to support the proposed changes to the EFL Trophy Format.
The EFL released a statement on Friday 10 June stating that following the annual summer conference, an agreement was made by EFL Clubs to pilot a new format for the EFL Trophy as part of their ongoing commitment to creating more and better home grown players.
The one season trial for season 2016/17 will include 64 teams made up of EFL League One and Two clubs, plus an additional 16 category one Premier League academy/under-21 sides.
Central to the competition will be the introduction of a new group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams. The top two teams will progress to the knockout stages of the competition with the final staged at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.
Full details for 2016/17’s competition are set to finalised within the next fortnight.
Southend United Chief Executive Steve Kavanagh has made the following statement to fans in a bid to explain the Club’s reasoning behind the decision:
I thought it necessary to try to explain what was a long complex debate, some of which I disagreed with but on balance, and given some key factors I thought this was the best of the solutions available.
The mood of clubs first and foremost is that U21 teams or ‘B teams’ will not ever be let in the league. I would never vote for this and it is sacrosanct in my opinion.
Other clubs have stronger views than me. Last year because of The FA suggesting this we all voted through a rule that meant 90% of clubs would have to vote in favour, and because of that I simply cannot see that happening ever.
The EFL Trophy is dying. You either win it or want to go out in Round One. The middle ground is a nightmare as there is little or no money, not many are interested and now the competition doesn’t have a sponsor. But getting to the final is a fantastic day out and worth over £400,000.
I cannot accept that we can let a competition - one where we have been strong and been to the final several times - to die. That would be bad news for League One and League Two clubs so it has to be refreshed and rebuilt into something new.
So would you vote to scrap the competition or try out for one year something a bit different and innovative, notwithstanding it's not perfect?
I am a traditionalist and use to be against goal line technology and video replays, but the world moves on around you and if you stand still then you get left behind.
I wasn't in the room many years ago when the play offs were put on the table, but many in the room tell me the reaction and debate then was similar, but they agreed to work things through and look at the idea and that now is seen as an amazing concept which is copied and replicated around the world. I don't think this will achieve something similar but it demonstrates the point about not standing still.
The easy answer was to say no, we won't try this.
We also talked at length about two U21 teams being at the final. Something we see as unpalatable, but if that happens then we won't vote for it in year two, it's quite simple.
The next bit in many ways can be seen as unpalatable and I don't like it but it's where football is.
We need the Premier League, we need to be their friends and stop seeing them as the enemy.
I don't like taking their money but the reason people dislike them is because they have money and we aren't even on the bread line, we need in excess of £1million a year to standstill.
To compete and move the club forward we need money and need to reduce the reliance on owners putting in vast sums.
Through having better relationships, we are slowly getting more money fed down. By working with them they are understanding that they have to support and help us, but I repeat again and the point I made very vocally is that they also have to know there is a line that won't be crossed and that is B teams in the league.
Next year every game we play in this competition at the group stage has £10,000 prize money at stake. The U21 teams don't get their full shares of gates as it goes into a pot and is then shared amongst all the clubs. So now we have a financial reason to get to the quarter final, and the prize money rises after the group stages.
So our chances of getting some money, funding things better and being less reliant on owners has improved because of this. Our desire to get to the final is still there as it is worth a lot - not just financially but to everyone.
Has that diminished because of U21 teams? I very much doubt it.
That is why the Premier League want this chance to show the next crop of top England players what it is to play real football early in their careers. A small by-product is that we can show we are trying to help English talent develop.
Will it stop loans to clubs? No. They have to be out on loan before the end of August now so would you stop a loan because of 3 games in the EFL Trophy? No, and guess what, if it does and we see that as a problem next year we will vote no.
This isn’t ideal, but it would come at us in a worse way if we don’t lead it and take control.
So on balance and given its never perfect, having listened to all the debate and arguments I voted for it.
It is hard to put on paper my reasoning for a very complex decision which is why our intentions are very much to host a Fans Forum ahead of the new season; giving supporters the opportunity to discuss their views regarding this issue and everything else Southend United. The details regarding this event will be released in due course.