Sweet critical of changes to EFL Trophy

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet

Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet has voiced his disappointment with the new-look EFL Trophy after the format was confirmed yesterday.

For the first time, the competition will include 16 invited teams from clubs with Category One Academies, following the EFL AGM in Portugal last month, in which Town had originally voted against the proposals of the a one-season trial.

“The increasing of the age restriction made since the vote was taken has hardened our stance, and Luton Town are now less supportive.”

Gary Sweet

Within this the Premier League teams would have been allowed to field three over-aged outfield players, plus a goalkeeper in their U21 sides if they wished.

However, eight days after the decision was made, the EFL were told that the Premier League were making a rule change regarding the eligibility criteria for their Development League to U23.

The EFL had to subsequently negotiate with the Premier League an alternative age-eligibility approach, and as a result, the competition rules now state that only six U21 players have to feature.

Speaking to the club’s official website, Sweet said: “Whilst we voiced our opposition to the initial plans for 16 EPPP Category One Academy teams to be invited to play in the EFL Trophy, we became supportive after the democratic process ruled that changes would be introduced.

“The increasing of the age restriction made since the vote was taken has hardened our stance, and Luton Town are now less supportive.

“But now we have to abide by the decision made for what we must stress again is a one-year trial, and we will continue to seek our supporters’ views as the competition progresses.”

Meanwhile, Luton Town Supporters Trust have also hit out at the decision, as in a statement, they said: “On Thursday, June 16 we met with senior officials of the Football Club regarding the changes to the format of the competition specifically the introduction of academy sides into the competition.

“Having put our concerns across and had them eased with the information presented to us we gave our support to the changes albeit still with some cynicism to the proposals.

We were therefore disappointed to hear that the goalposts have moved regarding the increasing of the age restrictions for the academy sides and as such we echo the words of Gary Sweet in the official statement released by the club and are now less supportive of the changes that have been made.

“In a highly competitive world which is changing all the time we recognise the need to be innovative and creative in order to succeed in modern times and with that we are open to the idea of changes being made if they are well communicated and to the benefit of all parties.

“Reluctantly we appreciate that the decision has been made for the competition for the upcoming season and we have to abide by them for what is currently just a one-year trial.

“Throughout the whole process we have found the lack of communication from the EFL to be extremely disappointing and urge them to be more open and transparent with their communication in the future.

“In the meantime we will continue to work with the club and have constant dialogue with them with regards to any changes that may be made in the future.”