The opening games of the new EFL Trophy have been met with widespread protests from participating clubs and fans alike.
A number of League One and Two sides fielded weakened teams, while supporters boycotted the matches.
Widespread protests as EFL Trophy gets underway
Clubs have reacted negatively to the rebranded tournament, which was previously the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy. The new set-up features the inclusion of 16 of the Premier League and Championship’s Under 23 squads.
Chelsea, Everton and Stoke are among those who have entered their development squads into the cup competition.
While the new-look tournament has been devised to aid the development of England’s up and coming talents, fans of lower league teams feel their inclusion devalues the competition, despite two thirds of Football League Clubs voting in favour of the change.
Fans, though, have been left angered by the new format, which is being trialled for this season. This week, the hashtag #BTeamBoycott has been used to promote the campaign on social media.
As the tournament got underway tonight, many supporters boycotted the matches, leading to a number of small attendances. Bolton Wanderers, Walsall and Shrewsbury all published record low attendances as their teams faced off against Under 23 teams. Port Vale recorded their lowest attendance in a competitive match for 30 years.
Elsewhere, Luton Town and Portsmouth made 11 changes to their teams that played on the weekend, while two managers included themselves in their matchday squads.
Wycombe Wanderers’ 43-year-old Player Manager Gareth Ainsworth came on as a sub to set up his team’s third goal in a 3-0 win over Northampton. Exeter City’s Paul Tisdale, 43, who has played just once in the last 16 years, remained an unused sub.
Those involved in the #BTeamBoycott have commended the efforts of fans who stayed away from the games.