As the Checkatrade Trophy reaches its latter stages, 14 from a possible 16 EFL clubs remain in the competition looking to book their place in April’s final at Wembley Stadium.
The 2017/18 competition has seen the total prize money increase to £3 million, with £1.92 million of that having been already allocated to winning clubs in the Group Stage - £10,000 for a win and £5,000 for a draw.
A number of EFL clubs have put the increased prize money to good use, having invested it directly back into the club and are already seeing the benefits.
Lincoln City have not featured in the competition since their relegation from the EFL in 2011, but the newly promoted side have sailed through this season’s campaign and are unbeaten so far on their road to Wembley, something which manager Danny Cowley has publically said he is keen to achieve.
The club does not currently have a training ground, and Checkatrade Trophy prize money has assisted them in imminently looking to develop their own elite performance centre for both current and future players.
Sky Bet League One Peterborough United, who won the competition in 2014, have also improved their facilities and have recently paid for the completion of a new 3G pitch at their Academy which is not only used by their own youth team, but the community as a whole. Speaking about the prize money received so far Chief Executive Bob Symns said:
“The prize money received through victories in the opening rounds of the Checkatrade Trophy has been really important to us," explained Chief Executive Bob Symns. "We’ve put the funds towards facilities at the Mick George Training Academy, as well as the purchase of additional medical equipment for use on match days.
“We have also been able to improve some of our catering provisions at the stadium, which I know our supporters have felt the benefit of. Hopefully we can progress in the competition, although we have a very tricky tie against League Two promotion favourites Luton Town to come.”
Oldham Athletic manager Richie Wellens played in the competition during his time as a player at Doncaster Rovers, and following his recent appointment at the Latics is seeing the financial benefit for the club from a managerial perspective.
“The Checkatrade Trophy is a competition that provides huge financial benefit to a club like Oldham,” he said.
“So far, the money we have made from the competition has gone into the day-to-day running costs of the football club which can sometimes be much underestimated. Progression in the competition is really important for us, not only because of the lure of Wembley, but because of the money which the club can sometimes rely on month-to-month.”
League Two’s Forest Green Rovers - the world’s only Vegan football club - have used their prize money slightly differently, putting their Checkatrade Trophy funds towards installing new kitchen equipment in their main stand as well as upgrading catering facilities in the other three stands at the stadium.
Checkatrade Trophy Round Three matches kick-off tonight as teams look to progress to the quarter-final, and all matches will be streamed and available to watch live on iFollow in both the UK and overseas.
Following the conclusion of Round Three matches, the draw for the Quarter-Finals of the Checkatrade Trophy will take place live on Sky Sports’ evening review show, EFL Matters on Thursday 11th January. EFL Matters is broadcast at 7pm on the Sky Sports Football channel, with the draw taking place at approximately 7:15pm. The programme will be hosted by David Prutton, alongside guests Garry Birtles and Gregor Robertson.
The draw will also be covered on the EFL’s @CheckatradeTrpy Twitter account.