Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg backs Premier League academies in EFL Trophy

Exeter City
Exeter City have never won the Football League Trophy, but reached the southern area final in 2011

Exeter City chairman Julian Tagg has backed plans for Premier League academy sides to play in the EFL Trophy.

Sixteen category one academies will join the tournament next season.

"The decision to support the proposal (strictly for one season only) was not taken lightly," said Tagg in a statement on the club website.

"This is not a precursor to B teams entering the league structure, which Exeter City would be against should it ever be proposed."

Exeter have never made the final of the tournament, coming closest in 2011 when they lost to Brentford over two legs in the southern area final.

And Tagg feels the opportunity to play against the best young players in the country will help Exeter's players develop.

The club has a reputation of blooding youngsters from its own academy in the first team, while players such as Matt Grimes and Tom Nichols have left for large fees in recent seasons.

"The EFL Trophy will allow a unique opportunity for our own under-21s to gain genuine valuable first-team experience. The possibility of being drawn away to a category one Premier League academy/under-21 side at a Premiership venue, would provide both crucial player experience, and an event for fans to enjoy," added Tagg.

"Secondly, the much needed reboot of the competition, currently without a sponsor, will provide increased revenue from central funding, match-day receipts and TV and prize money (which is double next season); an opportunity the club could ill-afford to lose out on.

"Exeter City understands that many supporters may be surprised, or not agree with the decision. However, after careful consideration and discussion the club feels that it is important to support and explore ways to ensure the competition can survive."

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