EFL clubs vote to keep 2016/17 version of Trophy – with 16 invited clubs

Chesterfield FC v Accrington Stanley,
Chesterfield FC v Accrington Stanley,
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The EFL member clubs have voted to keep the Checkatrade Trophy as it was in the 2016/17 season.

Despite poor attendances and a criticism for the competition’s format from supporters and a number of EFL club officials, two thirds of the clubs in League One and League Two opted to retain group stages and 16 invited clubs from the Premier League or Championship.

Chesterfield were in the minority who voted to adopt a 48-club format, with only League One and Two outfits involved.

The Spireites favoured a straight knockout tournament.

A small number clubs voted to abolish the competition altogether.

The 2017/18 Checkatrade Trophy will have amendments from last season’s version.

The League One and League Two clubs will be allowed greater flexibility in team selection, something Spireites boss Gary Caldwell was keen to see – although the amendments don’t go as far as he would have liked.

Those clubs will still have to field four ‘qualifying’ outfield players in their starting line-up.

Qualifying players include those who have started the previous first team game, or the next game, players in the top 10 at the club for starting appearances in league and cup games, those who have made 40 or more first team appearances in their career and players who are on loan from either a Premier League or Cat 1 academy club.

The total prize fund has been upped to £3 million and regionalisation until the quarter-finals will minimise overall travel time for clubs and supporters.

Invited clubs will play their group games away from home and their selection criteria will remain as six players in the starting line-up who are under the age of 21.

The EFL says the competition objectives for the next two seasons are to provide enhanced playing opportunities for young players of EFL and Category One Clubs; enhance the profile of the competition and improve the revenue opportunities for EFL clubs.

Last season a quarter of the 1,529 players who appeared in the competition were English Under 21 players and a further 13.9 per cent were English and between 21 and 23.

Winning a group stage game will net clubs a £10k prize, with £5k for a draw.

In round two the prize money is doubled for a win, and again in round three.

At the quarter-final stage a win will secure a £50k prize.

Runners-up will receive a £50k payment and the competition winners will earn £100k.