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Man United, Arsenal and Liverpool reject invite to field teams in revamped EFL Trophy

Six Premier League clubs turned down the chance to partake in the competition.

The Football League hope to reinvent the competition with the introduction of Premier League academy sides.
The Football League hope to reinvent the competition with the introduction of Premier League academy sides.
Image: John Walton

MANCHESTER UNITED ARE among several leading clubs to reject an invite to field academy teams in the revamped English Football League (EFL) Trophy.

United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Tottenham Hotspur were missing when the draw for the knockout tournament, which traditionally has just been made up from the 48 clubs involved in English football’s third and fourth tiers, was made on Wednesday.

But Premier League champions Leicester City have agreed that their academy side will take part, with Chelsea also set to have their fledgling players compete in the competition.

In a bid to give a higher profile to the competition, officials announced in June that 16 ‘category one’ academy outfits had been invited to take part.

The new tournament will see 64 teams divided into 16 groups of four, on a north/south regional basis, each group containing one ‘invited’ club.

Then the top two from each group will go forward to a regional knockout round of 32, with the last 16, quarter-finals and semi-finals all open draws ahead of a final at Wembley Stadium on 2 April.

Barnsley v Oxford United - Johnstone's Paint Trophy - Final - Wembley Stadium Cork's Conor Hourihane lifted the Johnstone's Paint Trophy last year. Source: PA Wire/Press Association Images

“If it’s a success it will continue. If not we’ll review and see where we go,” Football League chief executive Shaun Harvey said.

Leicester and Chelsea are joined by Southampton, West Ham United, Stoke City, Everton, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Middlesbrough as the ‘category one’ clubs.

They will have to start six U21 players in each game with Norwich City, Brighton, Derby, Wolves, Blackburn and Reading all putting their names in the hat to take the place of the six clubs who declined the invite.

Football League Trophy, Group stage draw 2016/17:

Northern Group A: Everton, Bolton, Cheltenham, Blackpool.
Northern Group B: Wolves, Chesterfield, Crewe, Accrington.
Northern Group C: Stoke, Bradford, Morecambe, Bury.
Northern Group D: Blackburn, Fleetwood, Carlisle, Oldham.
Northern Group E: Derby, Port Vale, Doncaster, Mansfield.
Northern Group F: Sunderland, Rochdale, Hartlepool, Notts County.
Northern Group G: Middlesbrough, Scunthorpe, Cambridge, Shrewsbury.
Northern Group H: Leicester, Sheffield United, Grimsby, Walsall.

Southern Group A: Reading, Bristol Rovers, Portsmouth, Yeovil.
Southern Group B: Swansea, AFC Wimbledon, Newport, Plymouth.
Southern Group C: Chelsea, Swindon, Exeter, Oxford.
Southern Group D: West Ham, Coventry, Wycombe, Northampton.
Southern Group E: Southampton, Charlton, Colchester, Crawley.
Southern Group F: Norwich, Peterborough, Barnet, MK Dons.
Southern Group G: Brighton, Southend, Stevenage, Leyton Orient.
Southern Group H: West Bromwich Albion, Millwall, Luton, Gillingham.

With reporting from AFP

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