Blackpool vote for Checkatrade Trophy to return to old format

Blackpool in Checkatrade Trophy action against Wycombe
Blackpool in Checkatrade Trophy action against Wycombe
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Blackpool FC has voted in favour of seeing the Checkatrade Trophy return to its old format.

This means the club has voted against the competition continuing in its current guise, where 16 ‘invited’ clubs from the Premier League and Championship take part.

League One and Two clubs were invited to have their say on the much-maligned competition which has hit the headlines this season for all the wrong reasons.

The EFL overhauled the competition at the start of the season to include a selection of Premier League and Championship academy sides, which led to a boycott from many fans.

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Attendances in the early rounds were down more than 50% on last season.

Just 760 watched Blackpool’s group game against Cheltenham at Bloomfield Road while 766 were there to see the Seasiders when they were knocked out at home to Wycombe Wanderers on penalties.

The Football League’s rationale was that the tournament, known for the previous nine seasons as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, was stagnating and the overhaul would enable bigger clubs to blood homegrown youngsters in meaningful games.

Clubs were asked to vote on the following:

- A revised format including 16 invited teams

- A return to the previous 48-team competition, exclusive to League One and Two

- Remove the competition from the fixture calendar

Blackpool launched a survey to canvas the opinions of its supporter base and 62% of those who took part voted in favour or returning to the old format, with the club voting accordingly.

Manager Gary Bowyer has been a fierce critic of the competition and its rules, which stipulate teams must make no more than five changes from their previous line-up.

This led to the club being fined £3,000 for breaching these rules during their game against an Everton U21 side.

It is thought the club had been penalised for substituting goalkeeper Sam Slocombe 11 minutes into their tie when Bowyer had already made five changes to his line-up.

Blackpool later made 10 changes to their team for their knockout tie against Doncaster Rovers.