Doncaster Rovers reveal their stance on revamped EFL Trophy

Doncaster Rovers won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in 2007.Doncaster Rovers won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in 2007.
Doncaster Rovers won the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in 2007.
Doncaster Rovers do not support the changes to the newly-named EFL Trophy, chief executive Gavin Baldwin has told The Star.

This year’s competition, formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, will be a bigger 64-team tournament including Premier League academy sides.

The current knock-out format will also be replaced by 16 regional groups of four for the opening round.

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The changes are a one-season trial designed to breathe new life into a competition that has struggled to capture the public’s imagination.

But Baldwin says Rovers are opposed to the proposal.

“Our position was that we didn’t support it,” he said.

“We were concerned that there’s a Whole Game Solution being presented which involves the move to five leagues on the basis of reducing fixture congestion, yet at the same time you are potentially playing more games in the EFL Trophy.

“Also we were concerned about the impact of having effectively B-teams from the Premier League in there and playing those.

“Therefore our stance was we wouldn’t support it or didn’t want to support it.”

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He added: “It was very clear at the Football League meeting, with the vote, that the majority did.

“There are still conversations going on about how many first team players have to appear etc etc. So we’re trying to, appropriately behind the scenes, affect that conversation now.

“I wouldn’t want this to come across flippantly but if other teams can play their under-21s, Darren should have the flexibility to play exactly the players he wants to play.

“Our position was that we didn’t like it.

“However, we understand it is now going to happen in some form so we’re trying to influence the form that it will take to best support the aims of this club.

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“Our primary concern is the Football League rather than the cups.”

Premier League academies will be able to field teams aged under-23 with up to four over-age players.

Supporters groups have reacted angrily to the proposals, amid fears it is the first step to incorporating Premier League ‘B’ teams in the English Football League - an idea Baldwin has said Rovers are dead against.

It is understood that Premier League clubs are offering an extra £1m in prize money.

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Baldwin told The Star that Rovers did not vote in favour of the proposals at the EFL’s annual general meeting in Portugal last month.

“Votes for, two thirds of the room went up,” he said.

“Votes against, it doesn’t make any difference then because it’s already been voted through. It went through on a simple majority.”