News and Views

Academy Get Bristol Rovers, Pompey and Yeovil

28 July 2016
By Hob Nob Anyone?

Reading will take part in the EFL Trophy (Johnstone's Paint Trophy) this season after being invited as one of the 16 Premier League and Championship clubs with a Category 1 status academy. The Royals weren't in the original 16 clubs to be invited to take part, but were called on after several of the countries "biggest" clubs declined the change to be involved. The format of 48 clubs from League One and League Two combined with 16 academy sides from the top two tiers of English football is on trial for this season only.

The competition usually involves just the lower two divisions of the Football League. Reading, and the other academy teams, will be required to field at least 6 under-21 players in their starting eleven in all fixtures. The format will allow Reading to play a mixture of academy and fringe first team squad players as they look to progress in the competition - which finishes at Wembley Stadium on 2nd April 2017.

The Royals have been drawn in Southern Group A, which includes Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth, and Yeovil. As an academy side entry, Reading will play two games away followed by their final fixture at home. The away games are Bristol Rovers on 30 August 2016 and Portsmouth on 4 October 2016. The home fixture is expected to take place at the Madejski Stadium on 8 November 2016 against Yeovil Town. The games take place in the International breaks - the only useable breaks in the fixture lists - which may have put off some of the invited academy sides.

The 16 academy sides include Leicester City, Southampton, West Ham United, Stoke City, Chelsea, Everton, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland, Norwich City, Middlesbrough, Brighton and Hove Albion, Derby County, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers, and Reading. Last year saw Barnsley lift the trophy with Wembley victory over Oxford United.


Discussion On This Story:


» 06 Jul 2016 18:04

From the *cough* EFL *cough* website.

The EFL has confirmed the format of the EFL Trophy 2016/17 which, for the first time, will include 16 invited teams from clubs with Category One Academies.
A total of 64 clubs will compete in the competition 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 2.

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.

EFL Chief Executive, Shaun Harvey said: "The new format is intended to rejuvenate this competition and also assist the development of the very best young players in English football. 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."

A Premier League spokesman said: "The overriding aim of the Elite Player Performance Plan across the Premier League and English Football League is to produce more and better home grown players capable of performing at first team and international levels.

"Participation for a selection of Premier League clubs' teams to take part in the EFL Trophy is an important part of a range developments that both we and the EFL believe will help young, talented players progress physically and mentally on top of the technical aspect of their game developed in the Academy system.

"It is a progressive move by both leagues; one that we welcome."

Competition format


- 48 clubs from League One & Two.

- 16 invited Category One Academy teams.

Eligibility Criteria:

- EFL Clubs – a minimum of 5 ‘First Team’ players in the starting 11 as defined under the competition’s existing rules.

- Invited Clubs – 6 of the starting 11 to be U21 (as at June 30).

Group Stage:

- 16 groups of 4 teams organised on a regionalised basis.

- Groups to include one invited club and at least one club from each of Leagues One & Two.

- Clubs to play each other once, either home or away. Invited clubs will play one home game at the club’s first team stadium.

- Clubs will be awarded 3 points for a win and 1 point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game (after 90 minutes), a penalty shootout will be held with the winning team earning an additional point.

- The top two teams will progress to the Knockout Stage.

Knockout Stage:

- Round 2 (32 teams) will remain regionalised with each group winner being drawn at home to a second placed team from a different qualifying group.

- Round 3 (16 teams) and Round 4 (8 teams) will be ‘free’ draws.

- Semi-finals (4 teams) will be a 'free’ draw and will consist of single ties played at the stadium of the club drawn first in each tie.

- If scores are level after 90 minutes in Rounds 2, 3 and 4, the game will be determined by the taking of penalties. The EFL will confirm arrangements for the Semi-Finals and Final in due course following further consultation.


- Group Stage
- w/c 29th August 2016
- w/c 3rd October 2016
- w/c 7th November 2016

- Round 2 - w/c 5th December 2016
- Round 3 - w/c 9th January 2017
- Round 4 - w/c 23rd January 2017
- Semi- Final - w/c 20th February 2017
- Final - 2nd April 2017 (Wembley Stadium)

The date of the draw for the group stage will be announced in due course.

Match Proceeds:

After deduction of match expenses, all proceeds will be split:
- 45% Home Club
- 45% Away Club
- 10% to the pool account

Invited clubs will donate all or some of their share of gate receipts to a fund that will be shared equally by League One and Two clubs.

Group Stage - Invited Clubs will donate their 45% share to the fund.
Knockout Stage - Invited Clubs will retain 25% of their share and donate 20% to the fund.
Semi-finals & Final - Invited Clubs will retain 30% of their share and donate 15% to the fund


Can't say I mind not being part of this idea to get prem B teams into the English football system at the expense of lower league clubs, but I am slightly miffed that Newcastle get invited and we don't when we are (for now) in the same league.

 The Royal Forester

» 06 Jul 2016 18:25

It would be interesting to know how many Cat. 1 Academy (and who they are) have not been invited. Has any Premier League Cat 1 Academy been left out? This is another nail in the coffin of the lower Divisions as a chance of going to Wembley and a bit of handy cash disappears. Serves the FA right if the League 1 & 2 clubs tell the FA where to go and all withdraw from the EFL Trophy the following season.


» 06 Jul 2016 19:18

If you can find an accurate list of category 1 academies I'd be interested.

 The Cube

» 06 Jul 2016 20:01

The official line is that Newcastle got the last slot as they had the highest finishing position last season of the 6 clubs who have category 1 academies and are outside the Premier League.

Norwich, Derby, Wolves and Reading are 4 of the other 5. Brighton had Category 1 status, but not sure if they have retained it. I expect they have a category of their own being such a massive club.

 Lower West

» 06 Jul 2016 21:34

Expect attendances to be low and the concept dropped. I'll vote with my wallet for one.

 From Despair To Where?

» 06 Jul 2016 21:46

So this is a revamp for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy or whatever its called now. To be honest, I couldn't give a toss if our academy isn't involved. It's one thing one or two 19 year olds playing in the first team but a whole team of 19 year olds sent out against a team of hardened lower league professionals? They'll get murdered in the group stage.


» 07 Jul 2016 10:52

Agreed. The thought of some of our younger players being mullered by established hardened pros from the lower divisions doesn't bear thinking about.

Overall this is an utter bellend of an idea and hope it lasts as long as the Anglo-Italian lasted or the Watney Cup or the myriad of other pointless cup ideas the league come up with to try and get money.

Just who would pay to see, say Stoke City Academy, take on Crawley Town remains to be seen. My guess is both sets of supporters would baulk at the thought of that.

Anyone remember the days of the Football Combination and Central Leagues. Seemed to work perfectly well as a method to give game time to leading young talent and players recovering from injury or on the edge of the first team. Why they had to scrap all that is totally beyond me.


» 07 Jul 2016 16:38

Although the rules mean these will not be Academy sides.
There must be 5 first team players and 6 u21 players in the starting 11

 From Despair To Where?

» 07 Jul 2016 16:52

Didn't read that bit. Just saw the Cat 1 bit and assumed it was full Academy sides, not that that makes it any less of a stupid idea.

 Forbury Lion

» 07 Jul 2016 16:56

Sounds like B teams sneaking in through the back door - hopefully poor ticket sales/attendance will scupper plans for B Teams in the leagues.

Also interested in seeing if the invited clubs accept the invitation or not.


» 07 Jul 2016 17:55

Spurs, Chelsea, Man Utd & Liverpool all not entering. Maybe we will get a chance to enter.

 Maneki Neko

» 08 Jul 2016 10:14

id turn it down.

don't want the shit idea, don't want the prem cast offs.
fukk off.

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