Pompey’s Catlin questions real driving force behind changes

EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey
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Mark Catlin has questioned the real driving force behind the controversial Whole Game Solution.

The blueprint was initially tabled by the Football Association, with the Football League attempting to now implement it.

During my seven years of attending EFL meetings, no-one has ever mentioned fixture congestion as a major issue. So why talk of reducing the number of clubs, fixtures in each division and a winter break?

Mark Catlin

Proposing the introduction of a League Three, a winter break, 20-team divisions and two midweek FA Cup fixtures, it has proven unpopular among supporters.

And Pompey’s chief executive heads the critics among Football League member clubs.

Catlin said: ‘Surely the backlash from fans over the Checkatrade Trophy has alerted people to the fact that not all change is good.

‘We keep being told clubs are driving these changes, but I speak to chief executives and chairmen every day of the week and have yet to find anyone who is actually driving it.

‘So then you have to ask the question, where is it being driven from? I will leave supporters to work that out for themselves.

‘Similarly, during my seven years of attending EFL meetings, no-one has ever mentioned fixture congestion as a major issue. So why talk of reducing the number of clubs, fixtures in each division and a winter break?

‘And is it only me or have others noticed that when radical changes to our league structure were first proposed by the FA a couple of years ago, it was all to be done with the intention of developing young English talent.

‘It seems ironic this has now been subtly changed to the phrase “young talent”.

‘Who are we trying to actually develop now then? Young English talent or young Premier League talent?

‘The EFL predominantly already develop young English talent, it’s the Premier League who hoard Europe’s top young stars and are desperate to play them in competitive matches.’

A deadline for the views of Football League clubs expired yesterday.

Consultation will now continue to take place ahead of the annual Football League conference, scheduled for June 2017.

Catlin added: ‘I never thought the Checkatrade Trophy would get voted through. Following my discussions with other clubs, I thought there were going to be enough against it.

‘However, the fear factor and financial inducements tend to do a lot to people’s voting habits.

‘We have to keep fighting this day in, day out right up until the vote takes place at the end of the season.’