The new-look Checkatrade Trophy gets under way this week with 64 clubs competing to reach a showpiece final at Wembley on Sunday 2nd April 2017.With an innovative new competition format pitting 48 League One and League Two sides against 16 invited Category One Academy sides, the revamped and expanded Checkatrade Trophy will give some of England’s brightest young talents the opportunity to gain experience and develop their skills against EFL clubs.
Prize money for the 2016/17 Checkatrade Trophy stands at £1.95 million - an increase of over 300% from 2015/16 - making this season’s rejuvenated competition the most lucrative for participating EFL clubs since its inception in the 1983/84 season.
Clubs will benefit from financial prizes as they progress through the competition which includes £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the Group Stage, increasing prizes for following Knockout Stage victories and a £100,000 prize sum for the eventual winner. In addition, invited clubs will donate all or some of their share of gate receipts to a fund that will be shared equally by clubs from Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two.
Kicking off the Checkatrade Trophy, a newly-introduced group stage will be regionalised with 16 groups of four teams. Each group will include at least one side from each of Sky Bet League One and Sky Bet League Two, plus one Academy team.
In the Northern Section, Bolton Wanderers will be looking to continue their strong start to the season against Everton at the Macron Stadium with a family friendly kick-off time of 7pm. Elsewhere, Sheffield United take on Leicester City’s young guns at Bramall Lane while Scunthorpe United and Middlesbrough will lock horns at Glanford Park.
Fixtures: Click here to see the Group Stage schedule
In the Southern Section, opening fixtures will see last season’s Sky Bet League Two Play-Off winners AFC Wimbledon begin their Checkatrade Trophy campaign against Swansea City, West Ham United travel to Coventry City and Charlton Athletic host Southampton.
Ahead of the Checkatrade Trophy’s opening fixtures, Shaun Harvey, Chief Executive of the EFL said: “Following the changes in the competition structure and format, the introduction of an additional £1million in prize money and a new and enhanced sponsorship agreement with Checkatrade, the competition offers significant financial benefits for EFL clubs in 2016/17 when compared to previous seasons.
“Clubs will receive prize money for the games that they win or they draw in the first round group stage as well as the knockout rounds. Of the 48 EFL clubs that competed in the competition last season, 29 teams earned less than £10,000 from the competition and 37 received less than £20,000. With £10,000 on offer for each group stage victory, it is clear to see there are now tangible short-term financial benefits to the Checkatrade Trophy as well as the more established longer-term ones. This has not been possible previously.
“Additional revenues will be generated for EFL clubs with invited Category One clubs agreeing to donate a proportion of their allocated net gate receipts to an EFL ‘pot’. The final sum will be shared equally amongst League One and League Two clubs following the conclusion of the competition.
"Alongside the financial increases, the new format is intended to reinvigorate the competition as well as assisting with the development of the very best young players in English football. The EFL and its clubs remain committed to producing more and better home grown players which will deliver benefits to both the domestic and international game.”