Peterborough United could play Manchester United at Old Trafford in a Football League competition next season.
The controversial new format of the English Football League Trophy (formerly the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy) was revealed by the Football League today (July 6) as were the 15 Premier League clubs invited to compete this season. Newcastle United from the Championship will also be involved.
The invited clubs 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.
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 changes will help deliver better players for England, apparently.
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.”
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.”
Posh will have to field a minimum of five ‘first-team’ players in each starting XI. The invited clubs will have to field at least six under 21 players in their starting XIs.
In the group stages, clubs will play each other once. The invited clubs will play one fixture at their first-team stadium.
Three points will be awarded for a win and one point for a draw. In the event of a drawn game, a penalty shoot out will take place with the winners awarded an additional point.
The top two from each group will qualify for the knockout stages.
The winners of a group will play the runners-up of a group at home in the second round.
From the last 16 onwards the draw will not be regionalised. The semi-finals will be a single tie played at the home of one of the competing clubs. Penalty shoot outs will take place after 90 minutes in the event of a drawn game.
The groups will be drawn soon.
Posh won the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Wembley in 2014.
2016 Competition dates:
Group Stage matches: Weeks commencing: August 29, October 3, November 7.
Round Two - Week commencing December 5.
Round Three - Week commencing, January 9.
Round Four - Week commencing January 23
Semi-Final - Week commencing February 20
Final - April 2 at Wembley.