The 16 invited Under 21 teams for the 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy have been confirmed today, with newcomers Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City, Newcastle United and Fulham taking their place in next season’s competition.
Premier League Champions Chelsea will again take part and will be joined by 11 other Under 21 sides from England’s top-flight as the country’s leading Category One Academies look to pit their stars against professionals, young and old, from the 48 League One and League Two teams.
Four EFL Clubs will have Under 21 sides involved, with Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Reading joining Fulham in the Group Stage draw, which will take place in July with the first round of fixtures scheduled to take place week commencing 28 August.
The announcement follows the overwhelming support of League One and League Two clubs to allow the continued involvement of 16 invited sides in the Checkatrade Trophy for the next two seasons, alongside several format amendments to provide increased flexibility in team selection for League One and League Two Clubs.
The full list of invited Under 21 sides is as follows:
Brighton & Hove Albion
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
*new teams highlighted in bold
The invited teams were selected based on their final league position at the end of the 2016/17 season. The first 16 were invited to take part, and then subsequent teams – with Category One Academy status – invited as required.
The selection criteria for invited Under 21 teams is ‘six players from the starting 11 must be under the age of 21 as at 30 June 2017.
EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey has welcomed the growing strength in the number of Clubs wanting to take part in the competition.
He said: “I was delighted when EFL Clubs collectively backed the competition following a full and comprehensive review of last season’s pilot format and we can see from the increasing interest from Category One Academies that the Checkatrade Trophy has genuine appeal.
“The competition provides a unique challenge to young players and seasoned professionals alike. I strongly believe players from League One and League Two clubs will look forward to taking on some of the country’s brightest prospects, who will themselves learn a lot from participating in a first team competition.
“I want to thank EFL Clubs and the Category One Academies for their support. I believe the balance of the competition should benefit all sides and will make for some intriguing matches when the Group Stages get under way in August.”
Peterborough Manager, Grant McCann, said: “We enjoyed the challenge of facing an under 21 side last season, albeit the result was nowhere near what we were looking for.
“The competition has changed a lot in recent seasons, but it is still important to us, we have been successful in the past and if you ask any Peterborough United supporter, they will have great memories from that Wembley trip and result in 2014. The revenue is important to EFL clubs and it is a trophy that we want to win again. We will be determined to be as successful as we can in the competition.”
Tottenham Hotspur’s Head of Player Development, John McDermott said: “We took the decision to enter the competition as it is beneficial for the Development Squad’s scheduling this year. We know the Checkatrade Trophy will provide a massive challenge for us and we look forward to testing ourselves.”
In May 2017, it was announced that EFL Clubs will have greater flexibility with regard to team selection, while still maintaining the principle that this is a first team competition 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.
Notes to Editors
The agreed format changes include:
- EFL team selection criteria amended to allow increased flexibility for League One and League Two Clubs;
- 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;
2017/18 Competition Format
- Group Stage fixture draw in July;
- The three EFL teams in each Group will be selected to minimise travel requirements for EFL supporters on Friday 7 July. The 16 invited teams will then be drawn on Wednesday 12 July.
- First Group Stage matches are currently scheduled 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.
- Top 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
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 from 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.