LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 26, 2009: Liverpool players warm-up before the FA Premier Academy League match against Manchester City at the Kirkby Academy. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Football League Trophy to feature Premier League under-21 teams in 2016/17

The Football League (this summer rebranded to the ‘EFL’ or ‘English Football League’) have announced that they are to allow Premier League academy / under-21 teams to compete in the Football League Trophy next season.

The competition, which previously involved only Football League teams from Leagues One and Two, will now feature those 64 teams, plus 16 category one Premier League academy/under-21 sides.

Liverpool are one of the Category One ranked academy teams in England, meaning they’re invited to field under-21 teams against sides from League One and Two.

However, we understand that Liverpool are currently considering whether to take part and appear unlikely to do so for a number of reasons.

These reasons include not being able to play anyone registered in the first team squad of 25 players, and that all games are to be played during the international breaks.

Therefore, Liverpool – and other Premier League clubs – will lose all their youth internationals as well as anyone in and around the first-team squad.

That would leave the Reds with a handful of players, plus U17 or schoolboys – being played up against full first-teams of players aged 10 years older than them.

Had the competition been more thought out and planned correctly, it would have been a good opportunity for Liverpool’s young players to get competitive football.

A decision will be made in the next fortnight on Liverpool’s participation.

The Football League trophy, formerly known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, was won by Barnsley last month, who beat Oxford United in the final at Wembley.

As a result of the trial, the competition will receive £1 million in prize money from the Premier League.

The 16 invited Premier League Category One academies:

Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham.

Note: This article was updated to include information regarding Liverpool’s unlikely participation.

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