Newcastle offered new route to the rebuilt Wembley

Rafa Benitez
Rafa Benitez

Newcastle United have been invited to take part in the rebranded EFL trophy.

The competition, formerly the Johnstone's Paint Trophy, has previously been only contested by League One and League Two sides.

But the Football League today confirmed that 16 clubs with category one academies, including Newcastle, will also compete in it this season.

Those clubs will be able to field four over-age players.

The final will be staged at Wembley on April 2 and the winner of the 64-team competition will net £100,000.

United, relegated to the Championship last season, are yet to play at the rebuilt Wembley.

"The new format is intended to rejuvenate this competition and also assist the development of the very best young players in English football," said EFL chief executive Shaun Harvey.

"This will help us deliver more and better home grown players which will deliver benefits to the national team and domestic league football at all levels.

"I believe this is the right time to pilot these changes to the EFL Trophy, which we will review at the end of the 2016-17 season following discussions with our clubs and having consulted with the other football bodies and supporter organisations."