Under-21s to enter Checkatrade Trophy

Arsenal Under-23s celebrate winning the league

Our under-21s are the latest academy side to sign up to the Checkatrade Trophy, with the 16 invited teams for the 2018/19 campaign confirmed today by the EFL.

Our young side will join under-21 teams from other Premier League clubs Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea in next year’s competition, which will continue in its current format with the country’s leading Category One Academies looking to take on professionals, young and old, from the 48 League One and League Two Clubs.

The format is designed to give the country’s leading young footballers the opportunity to gain experience of first-team football, while also providing EFL Clubs with an opportunity to attract new audiences and additional revenue in a competition that has long provided League One and League Two Clubs with a chance of silverware.

Four EFL Clubs - Middlesbrough, Stoke City, Swansea City and West Bromwich Albion - will have under 21-sides involved this time around. The round one group stage draw will take place in July, with the first round of fixtures scheduled to take place week commencing Monday, September 3.

All our group stage matches will be played away from home.

Academy Manager, Per Mertesacker, said: “We’re pleased to be entering our Under 21s in the Checkatrade Trophy this forthcoming season.

“We feel it’s important to provide our young players with a variety of experiences in their development and we certainly felt that by entering the Checkatrade Trophy, the players will face different challenges from strong club sides.

“With many of the players in this age group destined to go on loan soon in their careers, the experiences from this competition can act as a very good link between academy and first-team football.”

The invited teams were selected based on their final league position at the end of the 2017/18 season. The first 16 were invited to take part, and then subsequent teams – with Category One Academy status – invited as required.

The full list of invited Under 21 sides is as follows:


Newcastle United

Brighton & Hove Albion



Stoke City


Swansea City


Tottenham Hotspur

Leicester City

Wolverhampton Wanderers

Manchester City

West Ham United


West Bromwich Albion

A number of minor rule changes have been confirmed for 2018/19 with EFL clubs now being given the opportunity to name players who are out on loan at National League Clubs, while invited teams will only be able to name two players over the age of 21 and with more than 40 first team appearances.

2018/19 Competition Format

Key dates

·         Group stage fixture draw in July

·         First group stage matches are currently scheduled to take place w/c September 3

Group stage

·         Sixteen groups of four teams

·         Each group to contain one invited team

·         Groups formed to minimise overall travel for EFL clubs and fans

·         Invited under 21 teams to play all group games away;

·         Clubs will be awarded three points for a win, one point for a draw

·         In the event of a drawn game after 90 minutes, a penalty shoot-out will be held with the victorious team gaining an extra point

·         Top two clubs qualify from each group

Knock-out rounds

·         Round two will remain regionalised with group winners at home against a second-placed team from a different qualifying group

·         Round three will remain regionalised

·         Quarter-finals will be drawn without geographical restriction (no regionalisation)

·         If scores are level after 90 minutes, all knock-out rounds will be decided by penalties except for the final, which will have extra-time and then penalties


Player Eligibility

For EFL Clubs

·         Four qualifying outfield Players from 10.

·         A club can play any eligible goalkeeper in the Competition

A qualifying outfield Player will be one who meets any of the following requirements:

·      Any player who started the previous or following first-team fixture

·      Any player who is in the top 10 players at the club, who have made the most starting appearances in League and domestic cup competitions that season

·      Any player with 40 or more first-team appearances in their career

·      Any player on loan from a Premier League Club or any EFL Category One Academy club.


NB. No Player can appear for 2 different teams in the Competition.


For invited teams

To meet the criteria for season 2018/19 invited teams must comply with the following:

·         SIx from 11 in the starting line-up at under-21 level as at June 30 in the preceding season

·         Teams may only include two players on the teamsheet ages over 21, who have made 40 or more senior appearances (measured as at June 30 in the preceding season)

A senior appearance will be defined as having played in a professional first-team fixture. A non-playing substitute does not count.

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