The EFL has confirmed the format for the 2016/17 EFL Trophy which will, for the first time, include invited teams from clubs with Category One Academies.
A total of 64 clubs will take part in the competition, beginning with 16 groups of four teams, each of which will include at least one club from each of Leagues One and Two, along with one invited team.
The top two sides in each group will then progress to knockout stage that will culminate in a showpiece final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday 2nd April 2017.
The new-look competition will also have an enhanced prize fund, with an expected £1.95million being up for grabs, including £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the Group Stage, and £100,000 for the eventual winner.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey commented: “The new format is intended to rejuvenate this competition and also assist the development of the very best young players in English football.
“This will help us deliver more and better home grown players which will deliver benefits to the national team and domestic league football at all levels.
“I believe this is the right time to pilot these changes to the EFL Trophy, which we will review at the end of the 2016/17 season following discussions with our clubs and having consulted with the other football bodies and supporter organisations.”
- 48 clubs from League One and Two.
- 16 invited Category One Academy Teams.
- EFL Clubs: a minimum of five ‘First Team’ players in the starting eleven, as defined under the competition’s existing rules.
- Invited Clubs: six of the starting eleven to be Under 21 (as at 30th June).
- 16 groups of four teams organised on a regionalised basis.
- Groups to include one invited club and at least one club from each of Leagues One and Two.
- Clubs to play each other once, either home or away. Invited clubs will play one home game at the club’s First Team stadium.
- Clubs will be awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game after ninety minutes, a penalty shootout will be held with the winning team earning an additional point.
- The top two teams will progress to the Knockout Stage.
- Round 2 (32 teams) will remain regionalised, with each group winner being drawn at home to a second-placed team from a different qualifying group.
- Round 3 (16 teams) and Round 4 (8 teams) will be ‘free’ draws.
- Semi-finals (4 teams) will be a ‘free’ draw and will consist of single ties played at the stadium of the club drawn first in each tie.
- If scores are level after ninety minutes in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, the game will be determined by the taking of penalties. The EFL confirm arrangements for the semi-finals and Final in due course following further consultation.
w/c 29th August 2016
w/c 3rd October 2016
w/c 7th November 2016
Round 2: w/c 5th December 2016
Round 3: w/c 9th January 2017
Round 4: w/c 23rd January 2017
Semi-Final: w/c 20th February 2017
Final: Sunday 2nd April 2017 (Wembley Stadium)
The date of the draw for the group stage will be announced in due course.