Clinching silverware in the League Cup and FA Cup always seems to be a distant dream for football league sides and was the spark behind the introduction of the Football League Trophy.
The competition was put in place so League One and League Two sides could have a taste of glory in domestic cup fashion without having to face the big guns in the process.
This week, however, has seen the Football League announce that the current sides will have 16 new additions to the tournament with Premier League sides set to submit a so-called B team. This means that the EFL Trophy will see the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea partake in the competition in the form of their under-21 sides.
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The change comes after potential plans of forming a League Three of which would contain the academy sides of England’s top flight. The decision was made in the Football League’s annual general meeting in Portugal and the new additions aren’t the only transformations put in place regarding the competition.
The revamped 64-team tournament will kick-off with 16 groups of four before a straight knockout process which will conclude, as usual, with a Wembley final.
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The total prize fund will also rise, this time to £1.95 million, on top of bonuses, as the Premier League invested £1 million into the jackpot.
Again, the competition will be running on a north/south basis until the final and each team will play each other once in the newly formed group stage. The academy sides, who will be evenly distributed, have received the short straw of playing just one home game.
Similar to the League Cup, the knockout stages will consist of single ties apart from the semi-final of which will see the tie concluded over two legs.
The tournament layout isn’t the only change to the competition as Ian Lenagan, the former director of Oxford United and current owner of Super League rugby league outfit Wigan Warriors, is set to succeed Greg Clark as chairman.
The decision will no doubt anger teams of the Football League as there is a great possibility we could see an all-Premier League final next season, going against everything the competition stands for.
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