Ahead of the new 2016/17 season, the EFL Trophy competition has been re-formatted, with 16 new sides invited.
Today the EFL has confirmed there will be changes to the EFL Trophy ahead of the 2016/17 season, which will see a new format for the competition.
There will now be a total of 64 clubs competing in the competition, with 16 sides invited from clubs with Category One Academies.
Those teams invited are as followed: 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.
As there are now 64 teams, there will now be a group stage at the start of the competition, where there will be 16 groups of four sides, with the top two in the group going through to a knockout phase.
Making up the groups will be one of the Academy sides and at least one side from League One and League Two.
The new look competition will also see an enhanced prize fund, with £10,000 for a win and £5,000 per draw during the group stage and then £100,000 being awarded for the eventual winner.
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.
"I believe this is the right time to pilot these changes to the EFL Trophy, which we will review at the end of the 2016/17 season following discussions with our clubs and having consulted with the other football bodies and supporter organisations."
The dates for the competition are as followed:
- w/c 29th August 2016
- w/c 3rd October 2016
- w/c 7th November 2016
Round 2- w/c 5th December 2016
Round 3- w/c 9th January 2017
Round 4- w/c 23rd January 2017
Semi- Final- w/c 20th February 2017
Final- 2nd April 2017 (Wembley Stadium)
The date of the draw for the group stage will be announced in due course.