Date: 11th August 2016
Having written about my support for Colt teams in cup competitions recently it would appear that – TAKE TWO – the English FA have truly made things look a tiny bit absurd in their draw for the EFL Trophy, according to the fans who are expected to pay to go and watch the darn thing! Now up here, as we seem to take on board almost all things the English FA do, perhaps we should pause a moment and take on what we ought NOT to do as well.
Firstly the draw was made in secret. Stuff that. Getting it wrong live on air not that long ago was hilarious but it was truly transparent. Whilst others hammered the SFA as incompetent I happened to think it proved that it was a genuine draw. And as a fan it gave me plenty to talk about… But joking aside – secrecy is not what is needed…
Next, the fans did not even know who was in the draw! The problem was the number of Colt Teams. There had been an invitation issued to all the Premier League teams but in the end only 10 accepted. Nobody knew it was 10 and nobody clearly knew who they were, so nobody could guess who they might get drawn against!
Third the draw was then tweeted. Now we all like our social media BUT… getting the results of a cup draw on there and there alone is not on. This is a working class sport and unless you have looked outside the window and seen nothing but idyllic Scottish summer weather (sic), then you will know that in working class areas there is not a lot of tweeting going on. Young working class kids don’t have fancy phones – FACT. There is a barrier between the FA and the world – OPINION.
Fourthly, we have had regionalisation in cups for a wee while in Scotland, and down south their geography can be a bit bigger than ours so the draw was designed to cut down on travel for fans and teams alike. So Cheltenham v Everton and Shrewsbury’s 200 mile transport headache to face Middlesbrough’s Academy? I don’t think the geography teacher would be happy at all that…
Fifthly – buy in. Whilst the majority of Scottish clubs were up for the Irn Bru Cup and the inclusion of Colt Teams, in the English version, there does appear to be reluctance in the English Premier League towards a scheme that the English FA billed as “an important part of a range of developments that both we and the EFL believe will help young, talented players progress.” They clearly don’t think that when push and shove are involved or that thing called commitment.
Next up – nobody knew when the games were to be played. Now in the Scottish game this can be an regular Junior phenomenon as teams face fixture pile ups as well as that many cups jokes get made about sideboards so that fans often have to make do with possibilities rather than certainties over weekends in the future.
Oh and no confirmed venues for some of the games either – I presume the Colt Teams will not all be playing at their club’s own big stadia?? It is now clear that is the case with West Ham… in that shiny new one… in which they are merely the tenants…
Finally the draw had Chelsea, Leicester City and the like in it, rather than Chelsea B or Chelsea Colts or whatever. It’s a minor point but it just adds to the whole farcical nature of it all for the fans.
Fans were less than impressed, journalists found a new field in which to play and the FA soldier on regardless? Or do they? It has added impetus to The Campaign Against League 3 whish is rapidly gathering momentum and this just adds the necessary fuel to their fire.
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