What has changed besides the name?
Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey’s statement about the rebranding of the Football League as the English Football League was understandably positive. He said, “We believe the EFL name and brand will give our competitions an identity that is new and distinct, while at the same time retaining our unique heritage. As such, it will be something that all fans can identify with – whether they be young or old, at home or abroad.” Welsh football supporters didn’t agree. The chair of Cardiff City Supporters Trust said, “The rebranding will make a lot of money for companies making logos and headed paper but will do nothing for teams playing in the three divisions. What’s the point?”
Though the name has changed, it seems that the EFL’s deference to the Premier League continues. EFL Clubs have agreed to change the format for the EFL Trophy to incorporate Premier League academy/under-21 sides. This has angered many fans and an AL3 statement says,
“Supporters want to see their clubs play real teams. Real teams with history and something to play for. Teams with a following and a fanbase …
Instead continues the era where the lower leagues must further prop up The Premier League. Because a multi-billion pound TV deal isn’t enough … A few games against teams that the Premier League treat so contemptibly is not going to solve the English youth development problem when clubs continue to hoard players. When there isn’t enough games to play this incredible collection of talent that has been amassed, The Premier League wants to play the clubs it pulled away from so spectacularly in 1992.”
I agree. I was fortunate enough to see Birmingham City win the Leyland Daf Cup in 1991. It had been 35 years since the club’s previous visit to Wembley and over 40,000 Blues fans were at the game. It was a huge occasion for us. It wouldn’t have been such a big deal if we’d been playing a top tier B-team instead of Tranmere Rovers nor would so many of us have filled the city centre the next day, cheering our team on the open-top bus.
Until fans start to boycott games such as these, and those sponsoring them, nothing will change. The fans hold the answer.