Pompey chief: We’re on fans’ side in EFL Trophy battle

Adam May on the ball for Pompey at Exeter in the JPT last September. Picture: Joe Pepler

Adam May on the ball for Pompey at Exeter in the JPT last September. Picture: Joe Pepler

A screenshot from the video posted on YouTube

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Pompey have pledged to respect the decision of fellow clubs and treat the EFL Trophy ‘professionally’.

However, Mark Catlin refuses to rule out the possibility of fielding weakened sides in the controversial tournament.

We are still against this in principle and will still fight against it when again up for vote following this year’s trial

Mark Catlin

The Blues were yesterday matched with Reading, Bristol Rovers and Yeovil in Group A of the southern section.

However, across the country there is supporter anger over the format change which now allows under-23 sides to feature.

Catlin, backed by Pompey’s board, has been an outspoken figure in the fight against the alterations, voting against proposals.

Regardless, the motion was carried, culminating in the overhaul of the former Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

In September 2015, the Blues were slapped with a £5,000 fine for making too many changes to a side which lost 2-0 at Exeter.

And it’s a scenario Pompey’s chief executive will not discount occurring again.

Catlin said: ‘I can understand fans not being happy with it because I agree with them, we fought against it.

‘But we lost and have to move on. The decision has been taken so we must abide by those rules and regulations and will now be taking an active part in the competition, acting professionally.

‘However, we are still against this in principle and will still fight against it when again up for vote following this year’s trial.

‘A lot of managers tend to look at this competition as a chance to blood some youngsters and rest senior pros. It cost us £5,000 last season.

‘I am not sure Tony Brown or the board would be happy about us taking £5,000 hits over three games, but that possibility is something Paul will discuss with the board, myself and the finance director (Brown), as he did last year.

‘That is a decision for Paul to discuss thoroughly with us. In the scheme of things, the bigger picture is trying to get promoted this year, that is the ultimate aim and where everything has to be focused.

‘I wouldn’t rule out fielding weakened sides until Paul has discussed it with myself, the board of directors and the finance director.’

Previously, rules stated clubs must pick six of the 11 players who started the side’s previous or ensuing fixture – or six of the top 11 appearance makers.

That figure is now expected to be reduced to five players.

Catlin added: ‘A £5,000 fine is a lot of money, but a positive from this year is that in group games it is £10,000 for a win and £5,000 for a draw.

‘The only money you make is through gate receipts and prize money, there are no one-off payments to clubs.

‘Obviously there is a lot of fan anger and I can understand why, but we have got to take part.

‘Whether fans boycott or not is an individual choice and I am not going to influence that one way or another.’

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