Club accepts invitation to enter a Category One team into tournamentEarlier this month, the EFL confirmed the format for this season’s EFL Trophy which, for the first time, will include 16 invited teams from clubs with Category One Academies.
We can now announce that Reading Football Club will be one of the clubs entering the Trophy this season, following an invitation from the EFL.
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 Sunday 2nd April.
The new look competition also has an enhanced prize fund with an expected £1.95m up for grabs, including £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the Group Stage as well as £100,000 for the eventual winner.
Reading Football Club last entered the Football League Trophy in 2001-2, when as a third tier side led by Alan Pardew we reached the quarter-finals thanks to a Second Round win over Colchester United nearly 15 years ago!
Aptly, our last goal in the tournament was scored by an Academy product - Darius Henderson notching in a defeat to Barnet that year as the then-named LDV Vans Trophy was awarded to Blackpool. A number of our Academy stars will hope to make an impact of their own on the tournament in 2016-17; all Category One clubs are obliged to field a minimum of six U21 players (as at June 30) in their starting 11.
In fact, a large number of our Academy stars will be featuring in a range of different competitions this season; Premier League 2 (U23s league), The Premier League Cup, The Premier League International Cup, the U18s Premier League, the FA Youth Cup and now the EFL Trophy. Not to mention any youngsters who might break into the first team and potentially play in the Sky Bet Championship, the FA Cup or the EFL Cup for Jaap Stam's side this season.
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.”
What you need to know about the EFL Trophy 2016-17
- It will include 48 clubs from League One and League Two as well as 16 invited Category One Academy teams.
- All Category One clubs are obliged to field a minimum of six U21 players (as at June 30) in their starting 11.
- 16 groups of 4 teams will be organised on a regionalised basis. The draw is due to take place on Wednesday 27th July.
- Each group will include one invited Category One club and at least one club from each of Leagues One & Two.
- Clubs will play each other once, either home or away. We are set to play at least one of our home games at Madejski 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. 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.
- Group Stage dates:
- 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)