Just when you thought that the Football League couldn’t be any more of a burden for lower league teams in light of the EFL Trophy fiasco, they have today hit a number of clubs with fines for fielding understrength teams in the competition.
After the restructuring of tournament, it’s fair to say that most fans have lost any slight interest in what used to be called the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. And it appears that more managers are following suit. No fewer than 12 League One and Two outfits will be fined for breaking the ‘full strength policy’ in the group stages of the newly-named Checkatrade Trophy.
This policy states that five or the starting XI in a Checkatrade Trophy clash must have featured in the team’s previous league match. Alternatively, clubs could field the five players with the most league and cup appearances during the current season.
Luton Town clearly have youth development and the League Two promotion race at the forefront of their minds, and will subsequently be forced to pay the full price of £15,000 for fielding a youthful side in all of their group stage encounters. Despite the fact that Town boss Nathan Jones opted to field a number of Kenilworth Road academy products, the Hertfordshire outfit registered excellent victories over Gillingham and West Brom to secure a place in the knockout stages.
In response to the penalty, the club released a statement on their official website. Part of this states ‘The £15,000 fine will be deducted from the £20,000 prize money gained from these impressive results.’
The only other club to be penalised with a maximum fine were Portsmouth, who bowed out of the tournament in the group stages.
Meanwhile, Fleetwood chairman Andy Pilley will be forced to fork out £5,000 in total. The remaining 10 ‘deviant’ clubs were Bradford, Blackpool, Bristol Rovers, MK Dons, Millwall, Charlton, Peterborough, Sheffield United and Southend United. All nine of those teams have been hit with fines of £3,000 each.
In the eyes of the authorities, providing young players with valuable first team experience seems to be a punishable sin.