EFL Trophy: Holders Barnsley to learn identity of first foes

Barnsley's Ashley Fletcher, Adam Hammill and Conor Hourihane with the Johnstone's Paint Trophy after victory over Oxford at Wembley (Picture: Tony Johnson).
Barnsley's Ashley Fletcher, Adam Hammill and Conor Hourihane with the Johnstone's Paint Trophy after victory over Oxford at Wembley (Picture: Tony Johnson).
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THE IDENTITY of the Academy teams taking part in this season’s revamped Football League Trophy will be revealed today along with the draw for the newly-introduced group stages.

Renamed the EFL Trophy following the end of a nine-year sponsorship by Johnstone’s Paint, the competition has been extended to include 16 Category 1 Academy teams along with the usual 48 clubs from League One and Two that traditionally take part.

Since the new plan was revealed at the start of the summer, the Trophy – won last term by Barnsley – has been beset by problems with the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur understood to have rejected the chance to take part.

This scuppered the League’s plans for all 15 Premier League clubs with a Category 1 Academy to compete in the 2016-17 Trophy along with Newcastle United. The invitation was subsequently extended to other clubs with Category 1 status, including several in the Championship.

A total of 64 clubs will compete and the competition will begin with 16 groups of four teams. The top two sides in each group will then go into a knockout stage that will culminate in a showpiece final at Wembley Stadium on April 2.

The draw will be made by former Leeds United manager Simon Grayson. The opening group games are scheduled for August 30.