The EFL held a Checkatrade Trophy Fan Forum at Wembley Stadium on Monday evening, giving supporters a platform to discuss some of their views on the competition.
The event took place overlooking the famous Wembley surface, with supporters from Sky Bet League One and League Two Clubs in attendance, while those that could not make it in person were also given the opportunity to watch via Facebook Live.
Fans of their respective Clubs posed questions to EFL Chief Executive Shaun Harvey on a variety of matters relating to the competition, most notably the introduction of U21 teams to the competition, the development of young talent and the financial benefits for each participating Club.
Following a pilot season during the 2016/17 campaign, EFL Clubs voted in favour of the current format in April 2017, including the introduction of 16 U21 teams into the competition, as well as the regionalised group fixtures which have been in place for the last two seasons.
Harvey was joined by pundits Colin Murray and former Blackpool and Bristol Rovers Manager Ian Holloway. Sunderland Owner Stewart Donald, Chelsea Development Squad Manager Joe Edwards and FA Director of Pro Game Relations Andy Ambler were also guests of the evening.
A man with a rich history in the competition, Holloway was part of the Bristol Rovers squad that finished up as runners-up in the 1990 EFL Trophy Final, an occasion he remembers fondly.
“This competition was the only time I ever got to play at Wembley and, although we lost, it is still etched into my memory," he said.
“At first, I wasn’t sure that I liked the U21s being invited, but now I am delighted and I think it is a much better format. I would not be here tonight if I didn’t believe that.
“Keeping it regionalised is important for the supporters, because there is less travel and more local derbies; I prefer the group stages to the straight knockout.”
Harvey also confirmed that the EFL’s partnership with Checkatrade will come to an end following the conclusion of the 2018/19 season.
The future of the competition is secure, with an agreement in principle in place with EFL Clubs that will see the competition continue in its current format for a further three seasons, subject to an acceptable level of funding being in place.
The EFL will now engage the market to secure a new partner.