EFL Trophy Decided Against Southampton v Portsmouth Tie
EFL boss Shaun Harvey has defended the decision to effectively manipulate the EFL Trophy draw yesterday to ensure that Southampton's Under 23's did not face Portsmouth in the competition.
The Daily Echo reported yesterday following the draw that it was physically impossible for Southampton to find themselves in the same group as Portsmouth because our ball number has been removed from the open draw, until Group A had been drawn which featured Charlton, Crawley Town and Portsmouth - they ended up with Fulham.
Harvey defended the decision saying that both clubs had requested it.
The rigged nature of the affair stands in comparison to us facing Cambridge, Northampton and Peterborough - teams who enjoy their own rivalry - and Swansea were drawn in Newport's group.
'One of the commitments we made, right at the outset, was to try to avoid group-stage games that had a significant potential for high levels of disorder. Previous experience with Portsmouth-Southampton games, particularly when talking to Portsmouth, was that there does appear to be potential for that when they're drawn together. So if we could avoid that in the group stages then it was a conscious decision that we should do so.'
With the contrary being true for others with derby's happening regularly in the EFL Trophy competition in all it's guises, Harvey said the view from those clubs was that the risks were not 'significant'.
In attempting to downplay the incident, Harvey admitted we could meet each other in later rounds but apparently it was an effort to remove the potential of 'negative publicity' around the competition despite their being nothing but 'negative publicity' around the tournament now following the changes to the format and falling crowd levels for matches.
It's a great opportunity for our youngsters, and unlike some clubs last season who played 30 year old internationals in these matches, we took it far more seriously than that, but selectively 'managing' an open and fair draw in that manner just leaves a sour taste.