“The Checkatrade Trophy will continue to provide young players, from invited teams and EFL clubs alike, with a unique opportunity to experience first-team football and I look forward to seeing the stars of 2018-19 emerge as the competition progresses.”
Arsenal have become the latest Premier League club to enter the Checkatrade Trophy – formerly established as the ‘Football League Trophy’ for clubs in League One and League Two.
During the 2016/2017 season, the EFL announced that the competition would be expanded to include 16 Premier League and Championship ‘B Teams’.
The likes of Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester City and Everton have since joined the competition with the Gunners set to become the latest club to join.
The decision to expand the competition to include Premier League clubs was met with great opposition, with the whole point of the ‘Football League Trophy’ allowing for lower league clubs to have a trophy to play for and an opportunity to play at Wembley being defeated.
On occasions, first-team players have been fielded, with the likes of Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi appearing in the competition for the Blues, one day after playing in the Champions League, whilst Leicester City once fielded a side worth £45m and with six over-age players.
Rules have since been implemented by the EFL stating that top-flight clubs are only able to field two over-age players (Over-21) and players who have made less than 40 first-team appearances.
Arsenal have become one of the 16 Category One academies to enter the competition – joining 48 clubs from League One and League Two.
Speaking about why Premier League club were invited, the EFL’s chief executive Shaun Harvey said:
Invited Under 21 sides in 2018-19 EFL Trophy:
Brighton and Hove Albion
West Bromwich Albion
West Ham United
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