EIGHTY-SIX per cent of Swindon Town fans favour a boycott of the EFL Trophy, according to a poll run by Trust STFC.

Last week the English Football League announced the final make-up for the 2016-17 version of the competition which used to be known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

In addition to the 48 clubs from League One and League Two, a further 16 under-23 sides from Premier League and Championship clubs, which boast category 1 academies, will take part in this season’s tournament.

Though EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey has insisted the new format will be run for one year as a trial, and his Premier League equivalent Richard Scudamore has stressed it will not become a precursor for the introduction of B teams into the lower leagues, the majority of supporters have voiced their opposition to the plans and many back the idea of boycotting matches.

Before establishing their formal position on the issue, Trust STFC sought the reaction of Town fans by inviting opinions to be submitted via email and social media.

In addition, the Trust ran an online poll asking whether or not supporters would go along with a boycott of the competition.

A total of 703 responses were received, with a massive 86 per cent voting in favour of staying away from EFL Trophy games.

Furthermore, the Trust received an abundance of replies through email and Facebook, the vast majority of which backed a boycott.

The overwhelming statement made by supporters is that they do not approve of the new format of the tournament.

The results of the poll suggest that a large number of fans will not attend games in the EFL Trophy during 2016-17. However, many supporters will want to protest against the direction of the competition without wishing to see the club lose out financially.

Therefore, the Trust has established a Just Giving page where fans who wish to boycott matches can donate the equivalent of their ticket price to a fund which will benefit local charities, including the Swindon Carers Centre, while simultaneously being reinvested in the football club.

Simply put, the money given by supporters will be spent either on providing County Ground experiences for the beneficiaries of the charities or on purchasing items from the club which can be sold again at fundraising auctions.

Those who would like to contribute can also do so by writing a cheque payable to ‘Trust STFC’ and sending it to 42 Elmina Road, Swindon, SN1 2BG.

Trust STFC released a statement, which read: ‘The EFL Trophy has stirred a lot of emotion within the Swindon Town fanbase, and football fans in general, for a variety of reasons.

‘The Trust believes supporters should be free to decide whether or not they want to attend games without fear of recrimination from others.

‘We asked for feedback from fans, which shows a huge proportion are likely to steer clear of this season’s matches in the competition.

‘The Trust is concerned by the possibility of B teams joining the lower leagues in the future and would ask the EFL and Premier League to provide concrete assurances that this will not be the case.

‘We are also concerned by the difference between the initial proposals for the competition, agreed by the EFL clubs at their summer conference, and the final setup of the 2016-17 tournament.

‘We would ask the EFL and Premier League to clarify what was agreed by the 48 member clubs in Portugal, why West Ham have been allowed to play all three of their group-stage matches away from home and why Chelsea have been given special dispensation to play outside of the competition’s allotted dates.

‘We feel these are crucial questions which demand answers from the relevant authorities in charge of lower-league football.

‘However, the expressed intention of our organisation is to keep Swindon Town’s best interests at heart and – from a financial viewpoint – participation in EFL Trophy is understandable.

‘The increased prize money on offer thanks to a £1million cash injection from the Premier League means clubs will receive £10,000 for each win and £5,000 per draw. The winner of the competition will benefit from a £100,000 payday.

‘While the tournament, in the view of the Trust and many fans, is inherently flawed and unrepresentative of the desires of supporters of teams in League One and League Two, we appreciate the club’s reasons for taking part.’