Rams Academy, Port Vale and Doncaster for Stags in EFL Trophy draw

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Mansfield Town will take on Derby County’s Academy side, Doncaster Rovers and Port Vale in Northern Group E of the new-look EFL Trophy Northern Group E following this morning’s opening round draw.

The question now is will fans accept and support the new format of what was the old Johnstone’s Paint Trophy with controversy over the big club Academy sides taking part?

Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle rejected the chance to play U21 teams in the new-look competition.

Sixteen Category One academies were invited to play as part of a one-season, 64-team competition trial and Premier League champions Leicester and Chelsea accepted the invitation.

“If it’s a success it will continue. If not we’ll review and see where we go,” said EFL chairman Shaun Harvey.

Sixteen groups of four teams each contain an academy side, with the top two from each qualifying for the first knockout round of 32 teams.

Leicester and Chelsea were joined by Southampton, West Ham United, Stoke City, Chelsea, Everton, Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion, Sunderland and Middlesbrough in accepting the initial invitation to join the competition.

Six Championship academy teams took the places of the rejected teams.

Norwich City, Brighton, Derby, Wolves, Blackburn and Reading have all put teams forward.

The new look competition will have an enhanced prize fund with an expected £1.95m being up for grabs, including £10,000 per win and £5,000 per draw during the Group Stage and £100,000 for the eventual winner.

The initial stages consists of 16 groups of four teams which will be regionalised, while each group will feature an invited club and at least one team from League One and Two.

The invited club will play one game at home and this will be at the first team ground of the chosen team.

Each team will play each other once either home or away.

In the group stages, clubs will be awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw.

In the event of a drawn game, however, a penalty shoot-out will be held with the victors gaining an extra point.

The top two placed teams in the group will progress to the knockout rounds.

Round Two will remain regionalised with the group winners at home against a second placed team from another group.

Round Three (16 teams) and Round Four (eight teams) will be free draws.

If any game is level after 90 minutes, the result will be determined by penalties.

All semi-final clashes will be knock-out games and played at the stadium of the team drawn first.

The final will be played at Wembley Stadium in April 2017.

The decision to invite the 16 category-one academy outfits to join the 48 sides from League One and League Two has been met with opposition from fans of lower-league sides.

The Football League confirmed any rejected invitation was be passed on to the next club with a category-one status based on their final league position last season.

With those campaigning against the idea claiming introducing academy sides into the EFL Trophy is the first-step on the way to B-teams being welcomed into the football pyramid, Premier League chief executive Richard Scudamore moved to allay their fears.

“This is the beginning of the end of B teams - this is it,’’ he said.

“That’s the whole point of it, to be honest. We are absolutely consistent on our view about no B teams in the regular Football League.

“Yes, of course we know some of our clubs would like B teams. We look abroad and we see the benefit of B teams. It’s just for the English football structure and pyramid, it doesn’t work, and so this is it.

“We can console all these worried Football League clubs’ supporters. This isn’t the thin end of the wedge, this is the block. It’s the beginning of the end of it.”