EFL Trophy: League One and League Two clubs to vote on scrapping competition

Coventry
Coventry City defeated Oxford United at Wembley in the 2017 EFL Trophy final

League One and League Two clubs will be given the option of scrapping the EFL Trophy when they meet in May.

In a one-season trial, 16 Premier League and Championship under-21 sides were added to this term's competition, which was traditionally for teams from the bottom two divisions.

The decision was met with fan boycotts of matches.

Clubs will vote on keeping the academy teams, reverting to the previous format or ending the competition entirely.

Some clubs have been fined this season for fielding "weakened teams", while Bradford changed their goalkeeper after three minutes to comply with the selection rules and Wycombe manager Gareth Ainsworth selected himself to play in a group match against Northampton.

At a meeting between League One and League Two clubs on Tuesday, English Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey discussed concerns around the "full-strength" policy.

What are the current rules?

Coventry City
Coventry were not alone in getting small crowds for the early rounds, but took in excess of 43,000 fans to the final at Wembley

Current competition rules state EFL teams have to field five players who started the previous game, or go on to start the following game, or five who had made the most appearances during the current season.

Sides that did not put out "full-strength" teams were liable to a fine of £5,000 for each group match by the EFL, with Luton and Portsmouth both breaching the rule in their opening three games of the competition and 10 other sides fined.

The rules are different for the academy sides, with six of the starting XI having to be aged under 21.

What is the EFL proposing?

Colin Doyle & Rouven Sattelmaier
Bradford replaced goalkeeper Colin Doyle with Rouven Sattelmaier three minutes into their EFL Trophy win over Bury

On Tuesday, Harvey proposed a relaxation of the rules to four first-team players per match, with goalkeepers not included, and a change regarding those players who qualify as a "first-team player".

Under the proposals, these would be any player who met the same full-strength criteria as are currently in place, was on loan from a Premier League club or one with a Category One academy, or had made 40 first-team appearances.

Other proposals include a "significant" increase in prize money, regionalisation until the quarter-final stage, and flexibility of fixture dates to allow teams to schedule games outside of international weeks.

What has the EFL said?

Harvey said following the meeting: "We committed at the outset of this season's competition to conduct a full and comprehensive review of the competition and, importantly, give our clubs the ability to ensure they make the key decisions regarding where we take the competition in 2017-18 and beyond.

"After asking clubs in advance for some initial thoughts on the competition, Tuesday was the next stage of the process and I'm delighted we were able to have such a full and frank exchange of views that will now assist the executive in refining a final proposal that our clubs will now vote on."

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