Hatters' response to Premier League teams' age change
The EFL have today confirmed the format of the EFL Trophy 2016-17 which, for the first time, will include 16 invited teams from clubs with Category One Academies.
A total of 64 clubs will compete 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.
As reported following the EFL AGM in Portugal last month, Luton Town Football Club voted against the changes but were supportive of the democratic process that saw the proposal introduced for the 16 Under-21 teams to be included in a one-season trial.
Within this the Premier League teams would have been allowed to field three over-aged outfield players, plus a goalkeeper, if they wished.
However, eight days after the decision was made, the EFL were told that the Premier League were making a rule change regarding the eligibility criteria for their Development League to Under-23.
The EFL had to subsequently negotiate with the Premier League an alternative age-eligibility approach, and as a result, the competition rules now state that six Under-21 players have to feature in the 16 Premier League teams.
Hatters chief executive Gary Sweet said: “Whilst we voiced our opposition to the initial plans for 16 EPPP Category One Academy teams to be invited to play in the EFL Trophy, we became supportive after the democratic process ruled that changes would be introduced.
“The increasing of the age restriction made since the vote was taken has hardened our stance, and Luton Town are now less supportive.
“But now we have to abide by the decision made for what we must stress again is a one-year trial, and we will continue to seek our supporters’ views as the competition progresses.”
In terms of how the competition will run in 2016-17, the top two sides in each group will then go into a knockout stage that will culminate in a showpiece final at Wembley on April 2.
The new-look competition will also have an enhanced prize fund with an expected £1.95m 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.
The first 16 clubs with Category One Academies that have been invited to take part in the EFL Trophy are Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: "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 & Two.
· 16 invited Category One Academy teams.
· EFL Clubs – a minimum of 5 ‘First Team’ players in the starting 11 as defined under the competition’s existing rules.
· Invited Clubs – 6 of the starting 11 to be U21 (as at June 30).
· 16 groups of 4 teams organised on a regionalised basis.
· Groups to include one invited club and at least one club from each of Leagues One & 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 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game (after 90 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 90 minutes in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, the game will be determined by the taking of penalties. The EFL will 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 - 2nd April 2017 (Wembley Stadium)
The date of the draw for the group stage will be announced in due course.
After deduction of match expenses, all proceeds will be split:
· 45% Home Club
· 45% Away Club
· 10% to the pool account
· Invited clubs will donate all or some of their share of gate receipts to a fund that will be shared equally by League One and Two clubs.
Group Stage - Invited Clubs will donate their 45% share to the fund.
Knockout Stage - Invited Clubs will retain 25% of their share and donate 20% to the fund.
Semi-finals & Final - Invited Clubs will retain 30% of their share and donate 15% to the fund.