Wednesday, 13 July 2016

EFL Chief faces tough questions over Football League restructure at Supporters Summit

As a follow up to my post in the spring on the importance of supporter involvement in the proposed revamping of the English Football League, it is encouraging to learn that EFL chairman Ian Lenagan will answer questions at the Supporters Summit on 16th July.

The Supporters Summit is an event organised by the Football Supporter's Federation and Supporters Direct. It will be held at Wembley Stadium. More information can be found via this link.

So far the league restructuring has not gathered much traction and the EFL has not demonstrated if there is any appetite for the proposed expansion of the league to 100 teams among the supporters. 

In the meantime the new format for the EFL Trophy has been announced which is supposed to include invited Premier League and some Championship clubs fielding under 21 sides. Clubs are only invited if they have category one youth academies. The trouble is that reportedly half of the 16 clubs originally asked to join have already declined the invitation.

The fact that the EFL announced the new format without seemingly checking if the invited clubs would be likely to accept should be a matter of concern for many fans of EFL clubs. Invitations have now been extended to more clubs from the Championship. However, the new format has met with some hostility and it does not reflect well upon the league that very little the groundwork seems to have been done before making the announcement.

The EFL Trophy, under its numerous guises, remains a popular competition which has been running for 33 years. It represents a chance for second and third tier clubs to play is a meaningful cup final at Wembley. The competition is the recent subject of a Euro 2016 meme as it began to occur to people that the Portugal international defender Jose Fonte has a European Championship and an EFL Trophy medal.
The concern from fans seems to be about the potential watering down of the competition and the possibility that it might prevent lower division clubs from the chance of their big day out. The argument for including under 21 teams is that it will make for an effective proving ground for young English players as they try to break into Premier League first teams.

Perhaps Mr Lenagan will be able to explain the thinking behind the format changes and in turn supporters will be able to impress upon him the importance of the supporters, who are key stakeholders in the EFL, involvement in restructuring the Football League.