Mansfield Town boss calls for free admission to early Checkatrade games to instil atmosphere
Mansfield Town manager would love to see free admission to the early rounds of the Checkatrade Trophy to generate the missing atmosphere.
Stags kick off their opening Checkatrade group games tomorrow night with a trip to Lincoln City (7.45pm).
But Flitcroft knows it is only in the later rounds when the public respond to a much-maligned competition which he feels makes a mockery of the inclusion of the Premier League U21s sides which is supposed to give the youngsters a better feel of real competitive games played in front of a bigger crowd than they are used to.
“I think it’s a good trophy,” he said. “But I wish we could somehow make the competition free to watch at this stage and get loads of kids in and loads of energy.
“They put the Premier League U21 teams so people can go along and see the top teams but there are not enough people in the stadiums in the early rounds.
“That’s the only thing that galls me with the competition really. Could the sponsors put that money in? Do we have to charge for it? “It’s certainly a competition that League One and League Two clubs do take seriously because the prize is good. They have added prize money to win each round.
“But at times it’s worse than a reserve game in the early rounds and if they could look at that and get a real think tank going on how to really fill a stadium, get every local school in and just flood it.”
Flitcroft added: “It’s no good saying the U21 teams and the younger players are not playing in an environment and then we put them in one with no fans.”
He said free admission for such games would be a big boost for hard-pressed Stags fans.
“You look at our supporters with the schedule we’ve had. They had to go to Macclesfield and then West Brom and now this is another game they’ve got to pay for,” he said.
“If that was looked at then I would be really happy with the competition.”
Stags welcome Wolves U21s in the next game on Tuesday, 9th October before the group is completed at home to Scunthorpe on Tuesday, 13th November.
Flitcroft will check on the fitness of his squad at the end of today and decide what sort of side to send out at Lincoln tomorrow.
“We will assess it and see where the boys are,” he said.
“If we can get through to the end of Monday with a full quota of players I will be delighted and it might give us the opportunity to just change it up a little bit.”
Stags welcomed back defenders Hayden White (hamstring) and Matt Preston (concussion) from injury on Saturday and the manager must now decide if they need more football at Lincoln to catch up or whether to rest them just in case.
Flitcroft said: “We were cautious with Hayden as we didn’t want to turn it into a longer term injury. So all credit to the medical department for that.
“Credit to the player too as he turned in a fantastic performance on Saturday.
“We coasted Matty Preston through. We had to be patient and went down the FA guidelines, which you have to do now. The safety of the player is paramount for me. We had to make sure he was right.
“That is two excellent players back in the team with the energy and pace they’ve got.”