Sunderland are set to be handed a fine by the EFL due to their squad selection in the Papa John’s Trophy this evening.
The Black Cats hosted Manchester United’s under-21’s side in the competition, where rules are in place to make sure a select number of senior players are selected by league sides to protect the integrity of the competition.
With Sunderland facing the long, arduous journey to Gillingham for this weekend’s League One match though, Lee Johnson revealed last week that he was considering flouting the rule book to leave out all of his senior players ahead of what he deemed a more important contest.
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And true to his word Johnson has done just that, as all but one of the squad selected to face the Red Devils was from the under-23’s, with the sole senior option being Denver Hume who is continuing his recovery from a hamstring injury.
The Wearsiders will receive the mandatory £5,000 fine for not following the EFL rules regarding squad selection but it’s likely not going to deter other clubs from doing the same thing should the opportunity arise.
Despite the club being punished for it, Sunderland fans don’t mind one bit that their youngsters are getting a run out.
Fans were allowed to attend tonight’s match and they were probably excited to see them be tested against one of the best academy systems in the whole of Europe.
The Papa John’s Trophy is seen as a bit of a hindrance to some teams, and especially those who have promotion aspirations for their league season like Sunderland.
It does potentially provide a trip to Wembley for the finalists but as we’ve seen from Sunderland and other teams down the years it’s one of the lesser concerns of many teams and this just proves it.