Pompey see clubs look to EFL Futures

Conor Chaplin celebrates with Jack Whatmough following the defenders goal against Carlisle last season
Conor Chaplin celebrates with Jack Whatmough following the defenders goal against Carlisle last season
Pompey celebrated Brett Pitman's opening goal against AFC Wimbledon earlier this season

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TWELVE months ago the debate raged over a radical shake-up to the Football League structure.

The controversial topic of a fifth league and the introduction of Premier League B teams was eventually buried.

But then there were the changes to the Checkatrade Trophy, which Pompey were so vocally opposed to.

Blues chief executive Mark Catlin was at the heart of those discussions at the EFL Conference.

A year on from that tumultuous two-day debate, Catlin was last week back representing Pompey among the 72 league clubs at the annual meet.

This time it was a forward-thinking affair with a wholly different air.

The EFL Futures scheme was a major talking point across the two days of meetings between the league’s key figures.

The black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) initiative to increase diversity and the development of broadcasting deals in the digital age also featured.

It was the encouragement of fielding young homegrown talent which proved an intriguing issue, however.

A £750,000 cash boost was handed out to EFL clubs last season who handed starting opportunities to players under the age of 21 eligible to play for England.

That’s part of a £2.25m commitment over three seasons, with League Two clubs earning £304,000, League One sides £294,000 and Championship outfits £152,000.

All of this at a time when harnessing young talent is firmly in focus after the England’s under-20’s World Cup win.

The likes of Conor Chaplin and Jack Whatmough fall into that category for Pompey, with the Blues earning an undisclosed amount for their participation during the 2016-17 campaign.

Catlin said: ‘Last year there was a heated debate at the conference. It was more of a forward-looking conference rather than retrospective this time.

‘What (EFL chief executive) Shaun Harvey has done well is manage the big issues during the season. He’s done that at various regional/divisional meetings.

‘In previous years we’ve been going to the EFL Conference with pent-up grievances which built up during the year.

‘We’ve been going there to iron these issues out in discussions, like with the Checkatrade Trophy.

‘This year those contentious issues were dealt with during the season.

‘So there was a lot of rubber-stamping for things which had been agreed.

‘There were discussions about further developing the EFL Futures, which is the payment you get for playing youngsters who get first-team football. That comes out of the transfer levy, and that is something we benefitted from this season.

‘There was a commitment to move forward with the BAME initiative and there was a keenness to push that on.

‘There was also a lot of talk about future TV deals and how they move forward. It’s going to be changing with regards to people viewing things online.’

Catlin noted the days of Pompey being treated as pariahs at the conference are long gone as they attended as League Two champions.

He said: The club, as always now, was well received and we actively engage with all the other clubs in the debates.’