Pompey chief: Potential Premier League changes to Football League Trophy

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

Pompey chief executive Mark Catlin

  • Proposals to allow B team into the Football League were thrown out in 2014
  • The new blueprint would instead admit under-21 teams into the Football League Trophy
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Mark Catlin believes Premier League clubs could potentially have a presence in the former Johnstone’s Paint Trophy from next season.

Yet such a fate will not be decided until the Football League’s next AGM on June 8-10.

Obviously money talks and I firmly believe it will come down to what financial inducements may be offered by the Premier League to allow this to happen

Mark Catlin

Following the 2014 defeat of the motion to admit B teams outside the top flight, an alternative is being considered.

According to Pompey chief executive Catlin, the Premier League and FA are keen on the concept of development teams taking part in the Football League Trophy.

The competition has been known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for the past 10 years. However, that sponsorship ends at the culmination of this season.

In theory, a new sponsor could head a format change, involving Premier League club’s under-21 teams joining the competition.

In return, League One and League Two clubs would receive financial inducements yet to be specified.

The outcome will be voted on by Football League clubs at their Portugal meeting in the summer.

Catlin – a fierce critic of the B team plans – is awaiting more details before passing judgement on the potential blueprint.

He said: ‘I was one of the most outspoken critics of allowing B teams into the Football League and, as a result, safeguards have since been introduced.

‘In the future, 90 per cent of clubs would need to agree to allow B teams into the Football League pyramid.

‘However, discussions have been ongoing in regards to potentially allowing development teams to enter the Football League Trophy.

‘I know the Premier League, the FA and – probably to a lesser degree – elements in the Football League are keen to explore the possibility of development teams being allowed to take part in that competition.

‘It is not really at any stage. A working party would look at it if proposals were put forward any time in the future.

‘In theory, if a proposal was put before Football League clubs at the summer conference then potentially it could come in next season.

‘The cold harsh reality is this is a competition which historically many clubs have fielded weakened teams and lost money in the earlier rounds.

‘Obviously, money talks and I firmly believe it will come down to what financial inducements may be offered by the Premier League to allow this to happen.

‘No-one is aware of or if there are going to be inducements and, if so, how much. It is still all to be decided.’

Last Sunday, Barnsley defeated Oxford United 3-2 to capture the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – their first major title since 1912.

Pompey were eliminated from the competition in the first round at Exeter, having fielded a weakened team.

Catlin added: ‘Until we know the full facts of Premier League squads entering the Football League Trophy and what conditions are attached to that I cannot say what our stance will be.

‘The board will make a decision once the full facts are at their disposal, which we have not got at present.’