Over the past few days, I’ve had to make some incredibly difficult decisions on the direction of the campaign. Notably, I’ve decided that AL3 will not be present at Wembley Stadium and we will not protest on April 2nd at the EFL Trophy final.
Two weeks ago I received a legal notice from the EFL, relating to a tweet sent from our account last year. There’s very little I can currently disclose on this issue, other than to say the tweet was an error of judgment and the EFL are due a public apology which will be issued shortly. I have since deleted the tweet at the request of the EFL.
This legal action has compromised our efforts to an extent. Two supporter organisations have advised me that a protest at Wembley is likely to inflame the situation. The entire conflict resolution department of my solicitors unanimously agreed that fighting the claim was not in my, or the campaign’s best interests.
To put that into context, as you already know, the #BTeamBoycott has been incredibly difficult to uphold at Wembley Stadium. Two well-backed teams have reached the final and ticket sales have been strong. Ironically, it’s possible the attendance on April 2nd could actually be a record attendance for an EFL Trophy final.
If anything, that shows the importance of Wembley to this competition. It isn’t B-Teams that attracted a crowd, it’s the chance to watch a team at our national stadium. It shows this competition has a future if those who control it make sensible decisions, rather than purely commercial ones.
I don’t feel this devalues our boycott and what we’ve already achieved. The early rounds saw several club record low attendances as well as a competition record low. I truly believe the work we’ve done under the banner of AL3 has got the message across to the clubs involved and the EFL executive. They know how supporters feel, and they know their position would be untenable if this format continues.
There’s still work to be done. Our main objective is to do all we can to ensure that when the Checkatrade Trophy format is up for a vote at the end of season AGM, that the format is either reset or revamped as to not include B-Teams. Even after the “Whole Game Solution” was scrapped, the EFL Trophy sets a dangerous precedent for future B-Team inclusion into the league pyramid.
I’m passionate about this campaign and fighting for our clubs. But perspective is warranted. This campaign isn’t curing cancer, or feeding the poor. That’s not to devalue what we do, but it does give some context when I have to make a decision of this nature, particularly when it could severely damage my family and my future.
In my eyes, the Oxford and Coventry fans boycotting the final are making an incredible sacrifice. You have my unwavering gratitude for the tough choice you’ve made. I have never had the pleasure of watching my team at Wembley Stadium so it’s not even a sacrifice I can truly understand.
To the Oxford and Coventry fans who are attending, do not just sit back and accept the status quo. Clubs are dying. Coventry City is dying. Organisations that were meant to protect clubs from negligent owners have failed, and the success of this pointless competition is seen as a higher priority to them.
To those who had planned to join us outside Wembley, I am truly sorry. I hope you can understand the decision I’ve had to make and why it was necessary and unavoidable. I feel sick to my stomach but I truly feel there is no other alternative.
Moving forward, we’ll continue to highlight the issue of B-Teams and do what we can to convince the teams to vote against this format. I hope you can support us in that.
Over the past week several incredible organisations and individuals have offered me outstanding support and advice. To thank them publicly at this point probably wouldn’t do them too many favours, they know who they are and they know I’m incredibly grateful.
I’m sorry I don’t have better news to share, but I’m still confident we can get a positive result at the AGM. Keep fighting.