Mansfield Town will find out if the threatened fans’ boycott actually happens tonight when Doncaster Rovers are the visitors in the opening group game of the new Checkatrade EFL Trophy (7.45pm).
A lot of fans in Mansfield, and nationwide, are livid to see Premier League academy teams allowed to enter what was formerly the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy and suspect it being the start of a backdoor attempt by the Premier League to enter B teams into the Football League.
Click HERE to read Martin Shaw’s blog on why the Trophy is a flawed competition.
The Premier League has denied this and, indeed, some of the bigger clubs have declined to get involved in the Checkatrade Trophy at all.
Stags face tonight’s home game with Doncaster followed by away matches at Port Vale and Derby County Academy to complete the group games.
A Stags Supporters’ Association committee statement said: “SSA respect the personal choices of all Stags fans with regard to the EFL Trophy and will monitor the attendances and the way the new format develops this season with interest.”
Stags Fans United did not reply with their stance on it, despite requests from the Chad.
However, a poll among fans on supporters’ website www.stagsnet.com say 76 per cent say they would boycott the competition.
The lowest ever attendance at the old Field Mill was 800 for a Football League game against Torquay United on March 8 1939.
Stags drew just 1,253against Barrow in April 2011 for a Conference game and visits by Torquay for League visits in May and December 1982 drew just 1,394 and 1,293 crowds respectively.
Stags have done their bit and dropped prices down to £10 adults and £5 concessions in advance or £12 and £6 on the night.
Manager Adam Murray is likely to give outings to fringe players tonight but knows he must play a minimum of five ‘first team’ players in the starting 11 as defined under the competition’s existing rules.
Jack Thomas is not yet ready to return from his groin injury.
But tonight looks a perfect chance to give players like Pat Hoban, Krystian Pearce and Darius Henderson the minutes they need to get fully fit while players like Jamie McGuire, James Baxendale, Corbin Shires and CJ Hamilton will be hoping for a start.
Doncaster have an injury crisis on their hands with eight players currently on the sidelines - with the potential of more to join them, depending on fitness tests.
Both sides have begun the new season well with 10 points from a possible 15, Rovers third and Mansfield fifth in the table.
Doncaster saw off Yeovil Town in style 4-1 at the Keepmoat Stadium on Saturday.
A total of 64 clubs will compete in the competition beginning with 16 groups of four teams, each of which includes at least one club from each of Leagues One and Two, along with one invited team.
The top two sides in each group will then go into a knockout stage that will culminate in the final at Wembley Stadium on April 2.
The new look competition also has an enhanced prize fund with an expected £1.95m being up for grabs, including £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the Group Stage and £100,000 for the eventual winner.
The academies have to make sure six of the starting 11 are U21 (as of 30 June 2016).
Clubs will be awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game (after 90 minutes), a penalty shoot-out will be held with the winning team earning an additional point.