|Number of teams||48|
|Current champions||Luton Town|
|Football League Trophy 2009–10|
The Football League Trophy is the generic name of an association football competition for clubs in the two lower divisions of The Football League and, in some seasons, the leading sides in the Conference National. It was originally called the Associate Members' Cup (an anachronism as there is now no distinction between full and associate membership of the Football League).
The official name is periodically changed to match changes in sponsors and is now the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, or JPT (for three years from 2006); the common nickname amongst the fans for the cup during this period is the "Paint Pot Trophy","Paint Pot Cup" or "Paint Trophy."
Seven clubs share the record for most wins in the competition with two successes apiece. Carlisle United have reached the final the greatest number of times (5), but have so far achieved only a single victory, in 1997.
The Trophy is currently contested by just Football League One and Football League Two clubs and, from season 2006–07, is played in a knock-out (single elimination) format in two regional sections (except in Round 1 and, as of 2009–10, Round 2 where these sections are sub-divided to create four regional sections). As in the Football League Cup, the semifinals are two-legged. The final, which is traditionally held at Wembley, was played at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, from 2001 to 2007 because of Wembley's redevelopment, returning to Wembley in 2008.
The competition for Third and Fourth (as they were before 1992) Division clubs dates back to the 1983-84 season. Early cup competitions for third-tier clubs include the individual Football League Third Division North Cup and Football League Third Division South Cup from 1934 to 1939.
Prior to 1984 there had been a couple of different attempts to fill the gap in the calendar left by the collapse of the Texaco Cup-Anglo-Scottish Cup in 1981. The 1982-83 season saw the setting up of the Football League Group Cup, a competition which was re-named the Football League Trophy for the 1983-84 season. However unlike the present Football League Trophy, these competitions were not limited to lower-division clubs. The first final in 1984, was to have been played at Wembley Stadium but due to damage to the pitch, caused during the Horse of the Year show the final was moved to Hull. After that, finals were played at Wembley Stadium, until 2001, when the final was played at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff, where the final stayed, until 2008 and a return to the new Wembley Stadium.
Various attempts have been made to solve the problem of reducing the 48 lower-division clubs to a round power of two (which is required for a knockout tournament): often the first round of the cup was played in round-robin groups of three; at other times the more senior clubs have been given byes into the second round. The addition of 8 or 12 (rather than 16) teams from the Conference (from 2000-01 to 2005-06) has not solved this problem. This season, 16 teams of the bottom two League divisions will receive byes, and the remaining 32 will play the first round in four regional sections.
The tournament was widely considered to have been devalued when it was announced in March 2006 that, following a change of corporate ownership, LDV was withdrawing its sponsorship of the competition (1), meaning that no prize money would be paid to the winners of the 2006 final. It was noted, however, that LDV's website continued to trumpet the firm's sponsorship arrangement until May 2006. The final was held under the banner of simply the Football League Trophy, and it was announced that a new sponsor would be sought. In May the League announced a three-year sponsorship deal with Johnstone's Paint.
The current holders of the Football League Trophy are Luton Town, having beaten Scunthorpe United in the Final 3-2 on 5 April 2009 at Wembley Stadium. Luton were the lowest ranked team in the competition (92nd). Luton will be unable to defend their title in 2010 due to their relegation from Football League Two that season.
The competition is not considered a priority, with many clubs opting to field below-strength teams, particularly in the earlier rounds. A new rule from the 2006-7 season aims to stop this, with teams now obliged to play at least 6 of the players with the most appearances in their respective positions (for the season to date) or face a fine. Supporters, too, apparently lack enthusiasm for the competition, with crowds usually falling well below the level considered acceptable (or, indeed, commercially viable) for senior football. For example, in November 2005, Peterborough United (with an average crowd of approximately 7,500) attracted just 969 people to their game against Swindon Town, whilst Swansea City (with an average gate of some 15,000) saw a mere 5,321 people attend their tie with Rushden & Diamonds. Nottingham Forest recorded the lowest attendance in their history, with just 2,013 fans turning up for the tie against Brentford in 2006. During their exile more than 40 miles (64 km) away at Macclesfield Town between moving grounds, Chester City attracted just 409 fans against Bury in November 1990 and 420 in the following year's competition against Darlington.
The highest attendance for any game in this competition, outside of the final, came in 2010, when Southampton beat MK Dons 3-1 at St. Mary's Stadium in Southampton, in front of a crowd of nearly 30,000.
The record attendance for the final is 80,841, for the 1988 Final match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Burnley at Wembley. Wolves are the only former English football champions to win the Trophy; Burnley and Huddersfield Town have been finalists once each.
Associate Members Cup
Freight Rover Trophy
Sherpa Vans Trophy
Leyland DAF Cup
Auto Windscreens Shield
LDV Vans Trophy
Football League Trophy (final only, still billed as LDV Vans Trophy during earlier rounds)
Johnstone's Paint Trophy
|Rank||Club||Winner||Last win||Runner-up||Last losing final|
|Milton Keynes Dons||2008||–|
Redirecting to Football League Trophy