Newcastle United have today confirmed that they have been invited to take part in the EFL Trophy (more commonly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) in the coming season.
Previously, the competition was for the 48 clubs in Leagues One and Two, with the biggest carrot being a final at Wembley.
Last season Ivan Toney picked up a winner’s medal when on loan at Barnsley, coming off the bench at Wembley to help see the win out.
The revamped look sees an increase to 64 teams with the extra 16 drawn from the ranks of those clubs with Category One Academies.
Newcastle United are the odd one out as the other 15, including Sunderland and Middlesbrough, are all Premier League clubs.
The 16 that have been added will field Under 23 teams, though they can use up to five over age players.
Other countries such as Spain already allow top division clubs to field second teams in the lower leagues and some would argue that this is the first step towards that in England.
From Newcastle’s perspective, no doubt we will be stuck with a number of senior players (Gouffran, Riviere, Saivet etc) who can’t be offloaded, so it wouldn’t necessarily eat into Rafa Benitez’ first team schedule.
However, in Newcastle’s current position there doesn’t appear to be a great deal to be gained from the tournament, particularly if many of the better younger players are loaned out once again.
Also, if the games are to be held at St James Park then with a 46 game Championship plus potentially FA/League Cup matches, you can’t imagine those tasked with looking after the pitch are going to be too impressed.
Newcastle United official statement:
‘Newcastle United are one of 16 teams from clubs with Category One academies to have been invited to take part in the new-look EFL Trophy this season.
A total of 64 clubs will compete in the competition during the 2016/17 campaign, beginning with 16 groups of four teams, each of which will include at least one club from each of Leagues One and Two, along with one invited team. 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 2nd, 2017.
The new look competition will also have an enhanced prize fund with an expected £1.95m being up for grabs, including £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the group stage and £100,000 for the eventual winner.
The first 16 clubs with Category One academies that have been invited to take part in the EFL Trophy 2016/17 are Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.
“The new format is intended to rejuvenate this competition and also assist the development of the very best young players in English football,” said EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey. “This will help us deliver more and better home grown players which will deliver benefits to the national team and domestic league football at all levels.
“I believe this is the right time to pilot these changes to the EFL Trophy, which we will review at the end of the 2016/17 season following discussions with our clubs and having consulted with the other football bodies and supporter organisations.”