Club statement following English Football League announcement of Trophy changes…
Coventry City FC can confirm that the club voted in favour of piloting the new EFL Trophy competition set-up for the 2016/17 season.
The one season trial for 2016/17 will include 64 teams made up of EFL League One and League Two clubs, plus an additional 16 Category 1 Premier League Academy/Under-21 sides.
Central to the competition will be the introduction of a new group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams. The top two teams will progress to the knockout stages of the competition with the final staged at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.
The club’s decision to support the League's proposal (strictly for one season only) was carefully considered and not taken lightly, with three main reasons for the vote in favour.
1. The new format is a pilot project designed to rejuvenate the competition. All clubs agreed on the need for a fresh approach to the competition (which is currently unsponsored) and the vast majority of clubs voted in favour of changing the competition format. Many clubs, Coventry City included, expressed concern over the low attendances at League Trophy matches in recent years and the need to find ways in which to boost interest.
2. The new EFL Trophy format is a one-year pilot project that will be reviewed at next year's annual EFL meeting. The competition format will be under constant consultation with all clubs throughout the one-year trial period. In fact, all EFL clubs are currently providing input into the finer details of the competition format – that is, before the 2016/17 Trophy gets underway.
3. The change to the new format will provide significantly increased revenue from central funding, match-day receipts, and TV and prize money (which will be doubled for next season). The financial potential offered by the new competition format was something the club had to consider seriously and could ill afford to lose out on.
Speaking to the Coventry Telegraph about the proposed changes, Tony Mowbray said: “I haven’t got a problem with it. They are academy teams who will be very well coached and the football is not always about the result, rather the development of their players.
“It’s an interesting experiment, I’d have to say, to have Under-21 sides from the likes of Man United, Chelsea or Liverpool against Coventry City. But we want to win every competition we go into.”