Sheffield United: “I wouldn’t be sad to see Checkatrade Trophy go,” admits Blades chief Chris Wilder

Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd
Chris Wilder manager of Sheffield Utd

Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder has added his voice to the mounting criticism of the Checkatrade Trophy after insisting the competition should be scrapped in its present format.

Wilder, speaking after less than 3,000 people turned up to watch Tuesday’s tie against Walsall at Bramall Lane, claimed the tournament has become an irrelevance in the eyes of supporters following this season’s introduction of group stages and under-23 teams from the Premier League and Championship.

“I don’t think I am on my own thinking that,” he said. “It is a competition they have been clutching at straws with. I wouldn’t be sad to see it go, not at all.

“We have played enough football at the start of the season anyway. To stick another three games in is just not what we need. They talk about reducing the leagues and doing something different so if it is not working then just act.

“I don’t know how it will go next year but I think a lot of football people, well, we will have an opinion, but the biggest thing is the people who come here judge it.

“They have the biggest say. Have a poll of them. The EFL (English Football League), have a poll of League One and Two supporters, have a phone-in. Make a couple of quid from it. See what they think.”

Shaun Harvey, the EFL’s chief executive, recently insisted his organisation had agreed the controversial overhaul to promote the development of young players. But Wilder, whose team face a dead rubber at Grimsby Town next month after drawing with Leicester City and losing to Jon Whitney’s side, again questioned why fixtures are being scheduled during an international break.

Football League chief jumps to the defence of ‘farcical’ Checkatrade Trophy

“Grimsby is a game of football so we have to approach it in the right way,” Wilder continued. “That is the top and bottom of it. But the timing is all wrong. We could have played Harry Chapman in it but he is away on international duty. Aaron Ramsdale would have played, Louis Reed too.

“Karl Robinson (the MK Dons manager) said it recently: ‘What about our development of young players?’ And Walsall’s? Players might make the step up to England one day, as they have done. But not at the moment.

“So, why am I bothered about Leicester’s under-23s? I am bothered about our under-23s.”