Sky Bet League One and Two clubs have supported proposals to allow the continued involvement of 16 invited sides in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Following a period of consultation in April, League One and League Two representatives met to share views and were asked to consider and vote on following three options:
1. Retaining the current format with amendments;
2. Reverting to a 48-team knock-out competition;
3. Abandoning the Checkatrade Trophy altogether.
66.6 per cent of clubs who voted did so for option one and as a result, the format – with some key amendments - will be retained for seasons 2017/18 and 2018/19.
The key format changes include:
• EFL team selection criteria amended to allow increased flexibility for League One and League Two clubs.
• An increase in the total competition fund to £3million.
• Each group will continue to contain one invited U21 team with the remainder made up of EFL Clubs from either League One or League Two. Groups will be formed to minimise overall travel time for EFL clubs and fans.
• Invited U21 teams will play their group games away from home.
• Regionalisation until the quarter-final stage to minimise overall travel time for clubs and fans.
• Flexibility of fixture dates to allow teams to schedule games outside of international weeks.
Manager Darren Ferguson said: “The Checkatrade Trophy was a roaring success for Doncaster Rovers as far as I am concerned, it gave me the chance to play and look at the younger players in the squad and see how they coped with better opposition.
“The players enjoyed the Group Stages of the tournament and we were disappointed to go out of it on penalties in the second round. I think the format was good and I am happy to see the same format for next season.”
EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “We wanted to ensure that League One and League Two clubs had the opportunity to make the key decisions regarding where we take the competition in 2017/18 and beyond and I believe we have reached a revised format that benefits all parties.
“EFL clubs will have greater flexibility with regard to team selection, while still maintaining the principle that this is a first team competition for our clubs that will support the development and progression of young players. The competition will also provide significant financial rewards for all EFL clubs, which increases with success.”