Revamped – yet Pompey still against Checkatrade Trophy

Mark Catlin is against the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler
Mark Catlin is against the Checkatrade Trophy. Picture: Joe Pepler
Picture: Hampshire police

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The Checkatrade Trophy has increased its financial lure – yet Pompey remain resolute against the present format.

Tomorrow sees the Blues turn out in the much-maligned competition against Fulham under-21s (7.45pm).

The Fratton Park crowd at Pompey's Checkatrade Trophy clash with Reading under-23s last season. Picture by Joe Pepler

The Fratton Park crowd at Pompey's Checkatrade Trophy clash with Reading under-23s last season. Picture by Joe Pepler

Despite a supporter-led backlash across the country, League One and League Two clubs voted to retain the trophy in May.

Crucial in capturing support was the increase in prize money from around £1.95m to £3m – the bulk of the difference funded by the Premier League.

As a consequence, clubs now receive a head-turning £20,000 participation fee.

That is in addition to prize money of £10,000 per win and £5,000 a draw during the group stages.

It was enough to persuade 66.6 per cent of clubs to vote in favour of retaining the current format with amendments.

Mark Catlin is a long-time critic of attempts to allow Premier League and Championship second teams into lower-division competitions.

Pompey maintained that stance by voting against the format – but they will continue to abide by the democratic outcome.

The Blues’ chief executive said: ‘Pompey have been against the introduction of any under-23s, any under-21s, B teams, in fact any second teams coming into a mainstream competition.

‘We still hold that principled view and still voted against it.

‘However, we are part of a larger group that have voted democratically for this to go through and will be giving this, as a club, our support.

‘From this season, there will be participation payments after the increase in prize money is divvied up.

‘The sums involved are not huge. However for some clubs it’s important.

‘What might not be a huge fee for us may be a good fee for a club in League Two with poor attendances.

‘There is always a scramble at clubs to try to get as much money as you can, so any positive financial input from the Football League – or in this case coming down from the Premier League – appeals.

‘All clubs are struggling financially in one way or another and, obviously, there is a willingness to accept those payments.

‘Our position has not changed. However, clubs have voted democratically and we must respect that.’

Other changes include League One and League Two clubs able to now choose any goalkeeper, while only four starting outfield players have to be ‘qualifying first-team players’.

In addition, invited sides – such as Pompey’s opponents Fulham – need to have six under-21 players in their starting line-up.