We were recently requested by the EFL to indicate whether we were happy to support the proposal to retain the current format of the EFL Trophy for a further three seasons. We had indicated during last season’s successful Trophy run that we would consult with our fans before making a decision on our position over the future of the competition.
Unfortunately because of the very short period we were given we were unable to consult widely over the issue. We did however refer this to our Supporters Board. A majority of Supporters Board members agreed to support the proposal “with reluctance.. due mainly to the continuation of the current format involving the invited clubs and the strong possibility of one of them reaching the final and devaluing the competition”.
The club’s board believes that the main advantage of the EFL Trophy is that it provides the opportunity for League 1 and League 2 teams to reach Wembley and win a cup competition. Without that there would be no realistic opportunity for any of these clubs to win a cup competition. There are other benefits including the increased funding from the Premier League which guarantees us some cup revenue as well as being an important revenue opportunity. We also recognise that without this funding there would simply be no Trophy to compete for.
As a result of the above Lincoln City advised the EFL that “we are willing to support the continuation of the current format of the competition”. We did however note that “we are doing so reluctantly and with considerable reservations for the long-term viability of the competition”. We believe that the chances of an invited team reaching the final can only increase over time and thereby dilute the main advantage of this competition for EFL teams.
We also placed on record our reservations and disappointment regarding the consultation process for the tournament format review. We will however continue to positively engage with the EFL and make suggestions that we hope will enhance the longevity of the competition and reduce fan hostility towards it.