Checkatrade changes backed by League 1 & 2 clubs
League One and League Two clubs have overwhelmingly supported proposals to allow the continued involvement of 16 invited sides in the Checkatrade Trophy.
At the outset of the Checkatrade Trophy trial last summer, the EFL committed to giving its Clubs the opportunity to determine the competition’s future format and, following a period of consultation in April, League One and League Two representatives met to share views.
During this meeting Clubs were presented with a review of the 2016/17 season before being asked to vote on three options:
1. Retaining the current format with amendments;
2. Reverting to a 48-team knock-out competition;
3. Abandoning the Checkatrade Trophy altogether.
66.6% of Clubs who voted did so for Option One and as a result, the format – with some key amendments - will be retained for seasons 2017/18 and 2018/19.
KEY FORMAT CHANGES include:
- EFL team selection criteria amended to allow increased flexibility for League One and League Two Clubs (see notes to editors);
- An increase in the total competition fund to £3 million;
- Each group will continue to contain one invited under 21 team with the remainder made up of EFL Clubs from either League One or League Two. Groups will be formed to minimise overall travel time for EFL Clubs and fans;
- Invited under 21 teams will play their Group games away from home;
- Regionalisation until the Quarter-Final stage (improved from Round Two in 2016/17) to minimise overall travel time for Clubs and fans;
- Flexibility of fixture dates to allow teams to schedule games outside of international weeks;
As part of the proposals, the selection criteria for invited under 21 teams will remain as ‘six players from the starting 11 must be under the age of 21 as at 30 June 2017.’
There are three HEADLINE OBJECTIVES for the Checkatrade Trophy in seasons 2017/18 and 2018/19. They are:
- Provide enhanced playing opportunities for young players of EFL and Category One Clubs;
- Enhance the profile of the competition;
- Improve the revenue opportunities for EFL Clubs.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey has welcomed the support of the competition.
He said: “The history of the EFL Trophy is one of new ideas and innovation, but at its heart has always been the belief that this is an opportunity for League One and League Two clubs to taste cup success. I am therefore delighted to see the backing the Checkatrade Trophy has received from our Clubs for the next two seasons, following a full and comprehensive review of this year’s pilot format.
“We wanted to ensure that League One and League Two Clubs had the opportunity to make the key decisions regarding where we take the competition in 2017/18 and beyond and I believe we have reached a revised format that benefits all parties.
“EFL Clubs will have greater flexibility with regard to team selection, while still maintaining the principle that this is a first team competition for our Clubs that will support the development and progression of young players. The competition will also provide significant financial rewards for all EFL Clubs, which increases with success.”
Luton Town manager Nathan Jones said: “From a footballing perspective, the Checkatrade Trophy was a huge benefit to us as it gave senior players from the lower divisions the chance to play against a younger group from higher levels of the English game, but it also allowed us to pit our talented youngsters against Category One academies.
“We are pleased that our feedback has been taken on board, with the relaxation of the selection rules allowing us to play the players we choose to. We strongly feel our young players deserve the same opportunity as those from Category One academies.
“Just as importantly though, the EFL have assured clubs that it isn’t the thin end of the wedge in terms of Premier League clubs being able to enter B teams into the league. I know our supporter groups have been consulted all the way through by the club’s board when giving our views, and hopefully any fears they had on that front have been allayed.
“These are some of the best young players in the country from the top academies we are coming up against, and with the prize money increase, it’s an excellent way of filtering some of the Premier League cash through to the lower divisions while benefitting our own players on the pitch.”
Coventry City manager Mark Robins said: "The Checkatrade Trophy has been an invaluable experience for those players at an under 21 level to participate in senior football, it will certainly aid their development moving forward.
"We won the competition with what was primarily a young team, and if you can get to Wembley and experience a fixture in front of that many fans at the National Stadium, it can only be a positive."
Doncaster Rovers manager Darren Ferguson said: “The Checkatrade Trophy was a roaring success for Doncaster Rovers as far as I am concerned, it gave me the chance to play and look at the younger players in the squad and see how they coped with better opposition.
“The players enjoyed the Group Stages of the tournament and we were disappointed to go out of it on penalties in the second round. I think the format was good and I am happy to see the same format for next season.”
Checkatrade Trophy – Format
- Invited clubs announced in June;
- Group Stage fixture draw in July;
- First Group Stage matches to take place w/c 28th August.
- 16 groups of four teams;
- Each group to contain one invited team;
- Groups formed to minimise overall travel for EFL clubs and fans;
- Invited under 21 teams to play all Group games away;
- Clubs will be awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw;
- In the event of a drawn game after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will be held with the victorious team gaining an extra point.
- Two clubs qualify from each Group.
- Round Two will remain regionalised with Group winners at home against a second placed team from a different qualifying Group;
- Round Three will remain regionalised;
- Quarter-Finals will be drawn without geographical restriction (no regionalisation);
- If scores are level after 90 minutes, all knock-out rounds will be decided by penalties except for the Final, which will have extra-time and then penalties.
For EFL Clubs:
- A Club can play any goalkeeper in the competition;
- · The revised requirement of Rule 7.3 – ‘4 qualifying outfield Players from 10’.
A qualifying outfield Player would be:
Any Player that meets the current criteria (excluding Goalkeepers), includes those who:
- Have started the previous or following first team fixture;
- Are in the top 10 players at the club for starting appearances in league and domestic cup competitions for season;
- Have made 40 or more first team appearances in their career;
- Are on loan from either a Premier League or Category 1 Academy Club.
For invited under 21 teams:
- Six from the starting 11 must be under the age of 21 as at 30 June 2017
Introduction of Academy sides into League Competition
- At the Checkatrade review meeting, the EFL reiterated the previously stated position that the introduction of Academy teams or ‘B Teams’ to League competition is in no way connected to this competition and is not part of the League’s wider agenda;
- Clubs reiterated their support/insistence for this position;
- EFL Article 3.3 provides that no new shares may be issued or allotted without the prior approval of 90% of member clubs. This was introduced in 2015 so Clubs could view these changes in isolation.
Each EFL Club to receive a participation fee of £20,000 in addition to the following competition fund:
- Group Stage £10k for a win and £5k for a draw;
- Round Two = £20k for a win;
- Round Three = £40k for a win;
- Quarter Final = £50k for a win;
- Runner-up = £50k;
- Winner = £100k.
Competition Stats 2016/17
- 1529 players appeared in the competition;
- 381 were English and under the age of 21 (24.9%):
- 212 were English between the age of 21-23 (13.9%);
- 138 players from invited teams were English and under the age of 21 (9%).
Our objective is to increase these numbers, year on year, within a selection criteria that provides flexibility for Managers and allows them to fully support the competition.