The Police have saved Sunderland from potential serious embarrassment this coming season.
Last month it was confirmed (see below) that Newcastle United would once again enter a team of kids in the Checkatrade Trophy.
They are one of 16 Category One Academies in the competition, along with the first teams of the 48 League One and Two clubs.
With the group stage divided into north and south, it looked to be a one in eight chance of Newcastle’s kids playing Sunderland’s first team.
However, the Police have intervened and in a move to prevent potential trouble, they have blocked Newcastle playing Sunderland and Southampton playing Portsmouth.
“Southampton U21s will be prevented from being drawn with Portsmouth and Newcastle U21s will avoid Sunderland in Round One, as the EFL has committed to work in conjunction with the Police to avoid high-profile clashes in the Group Stages.”
Not sure what would happen beyond the group stage if both qualify…?
The Mag – 18 June 2018:
Sunderland managed a second spectacular relegation in a row, last season seeing the Wearsiders finishing rock bottom in the Championship, 12 months after doing the same in the Premier League.
As the Mackems playing Accrington Stanley on a level playing field became reality, the spectre of the Checkatrade Trophy also loomed for Sunderland fans.
Newcastle United entered a side for the first time last season, their Under 21s featuring as Port Vale won the group and qualified along with Oldham, Newcastle in third place and Crewe bottom of the group.
Now it has been confirmed that the Magpies are once again one of 16 Category One academies to enter the tournament, alongside the 48 clubs in Leagues One and Two.
Those 48 clubs including Sunderland of course.
The 64 teams will be split into pools of four clubs, with each group having an invited academy side in it.
However, last season the group stage was split into north and south to keep travelling/expenses down, so if that is repeated and no reason to think it won’t be, then Newcastle United’s kids have a one in eight chance of drawing Sunderland’s first team in their northern group.
Invited Under 21 sides in 2018-19 EFL Trophy:
BBC Sport have revealed that the EFL has tweaked the rules on who is eligible, with top-flight sides only able to now field two players over the age of 21 and made more than 40 first team appearances.