Halifax manager Millington welcomes plans for new National League cup and increase to seven substitutes

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Town boss Chris Millington has welcomed developments to the National League which will see a new competition and more substitutes introduced.

It was revealed recently by The Athletic that discussions have taken place for the top 16 teams in the fifth tier to play 16 under 21 teams from the Premier League.

The proposed competition is thought to have four groups of eight sides, four from each division, and the National League teams would play the Premier League youth teams at home.

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The National League clubs would not play each other, and would receive all of the gate receipts and half of the prize money, with the other half being put aside to be split between the 56 teams not participating in the competition from the National League, National League North and National League South.

Chris MillingtonChris Millington
Chris Millington

The groups would be decided on a regional basis, although the final format of the competition is still to be agreed.

"There's two sides to every story, yes there's a real challenge in adding games to the programme, especially if we've got to play home games," Millington told the Courier.

"Look at the track record we've had this season and previous seasons trying to get home games on, so the more home games we play, the more challenging the pitch will become.

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"So there is that, also we're a small, tight squad so we'll have to manage the bodies even more carefully because we're not going to be in a financial position to start bringing in two, three, four extra players.

"Those are the challenges but there are some significant benefits - it does mean that players like Ted Lavelle, Frankie Sinfield, Jimiel Chikukwa will get more game-time with the first-team, it means we'll get the experience of playing against some really good football set-ups and also, it helps us with our recruitment because we're looking at a lot of these players who we'll be up against on a regular basis, but we're watching them in under 21s football, so to see them in a more genuine, senior, football, National League environment will give us a better insight into the character of the players we're up against and whether or not some of them are real possibilities for us to bring in going forward.

"So personally, I'm in favour. We've got to manage the downside incredibly carefully because we wouldn't want any of the negatives to impact our league season but if we can do that, and we can make sure that it doesn't become a burden on the pitch and on what we're trying to do in the league, then it can be a huge benfit for us."

It was also announced recently that there will be seven substitutes named on National League matchdays from next season, with five changes allowed each game.

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"I think it's of benefit to us in football terms, it means we have more options and more possibility to change games, we have more players involved in the matchday squad so there's less players missing out," Millington said.

"So there's a lot of benefits in that sense. We'll have the possibility of naming a sub keeper in each matchday squad so there's less risk, because that has been a point of debate at various stages of the season, whether or not we sacrifice one of the outfield subs to have that security on the bench of a sub keeper.

"I know there'll be a bit of headscratching as to how we pay for the travel and accommodation for extra players when we're away from home.

"As with everything, there's a financial impact we need to cover off and somehow the club's got to be able to find extra income to cover those things off.

"So nothing negative from a football sense but these things have a wider impact for the club which we have to consider."

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