Shake-up to see top-flight academies in EFL Trophy

Crawley Town V Southend - (Pic by Joe Rigby) SUS-150710-192842002
Crawley Town V Southend - (Pic by Joe Rigby) SUS-150710-192842002

A controversial shake-up of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy will see League One and Two clubs pitted against Premier League academy sides next season.

Proposals for the top flight’s academy and under-21 sides to participate in the EFL Trophy were approved by the Football League at their annual general meeting in Portugal last week.

The competition, formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, has been renamed following the withdrawal of the sponsor.

They claimed the pilot is part of their ‘ongoing commitment to creating more and better home grown players’, but fans and some clubs have been left angry at the new format.

The one-season trial for season 2016/17 will include 64 teams, 16 of which will be youth Premier League sides.

The majority of the public reaction by those involved in the competition has been negative saying that Premier League clubs have forced their teams into the competition by offering an extra £1million prize money.

Lower league clubs fear it could end their chances of a dream trip to Wembley in what has always been a fairly poorly supported competition.

The new set-up will see a group stage format with 16 regional groups of four teams with the top-two progressing to the knockout stages of the competition with the final staged at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.

Crawley Town received a bye into the second round last season where they lost 3-0 to Southend United.

The reigning champions are Barnsley, who beat Oxford United 3–2 in the final.

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