Chelsea in EFL Trophy U-turn; others to reject offer

Date published: Wednesday 27th July 2016 7:56 - Matthew Stead

The English Football League will reveal which clubs opted to accept their invitation to enter their academies into the revamped EFL Trophy when the group-stage draw takes place on Wednesday morning.

The decision to invite 16 category-one academy outfits to join the 48 sides from League One and League Two in an attempt to refresh the competition – formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy – has been met with opposition from fans of lower-league sides.

And a number of leading clubs are expected to be missing from Wednesday’s draw with the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool all leaning towards rejecting the invitation.

Chelsea are now likely to be involved, as it is understood that the Blues have changed their minds after originally setting out to follow suit with their fellow Premier League big-boys.

The draw takes place at 10am, with the academies who have accepted the invitation to be announced by the Football League half an hour earlier.

Only then will there be a true marker as to how the plans, unveiled last month, have been received by the invited bunch.

The Football League have already confirmed any rejected invitation will be passed on to the next club with a category-one status based on their final league position last season.

That means the likes of Norwich, Aston Villa and Brighton could be involved, rather than the five Premier League sides, after being overlooked due to not having the desired academy status.

With those campaigning against the idea claiming introducing academy sides into the EFL Trophy is the first-step on the way to B-teams being welcomed into the football pyramid, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore moved to allay their fears.

”This is the beginning of the end of B teams – this is it,” he said.

”That’s the whole point of it, to be honest. We are absolutely consistent on our view about no B teams in the regular Football League.

”Yes, of course we know some of our clubs would like B teams. We look abroad and we see the benefit of B teams. It’s just for the English football structure and pyramid, it doesn’t work, and so this is it.

”We can console all these worried Football League clubs’ supporters. This isn’t the thin end of the wedge, this is the block. It’s the beginning of the end of it.”

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