Checkatrade Trophy teams confirmed with Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Sunderland all involved
Newcastle and Middlesbrough have confirmed their U21 teams will be competing in this season's Checkatrade Trophy.
Following relegation to League One the Checkatrade Trophy now becomes a first team competition for Sunderland and the draw for the regionalised group stage will be made in July.
Neither Sunderland or Newcastle made it out of the group stages last season.
Arsenal’s U21s are the latest academy side to sign up to the Checkatrade Trophy, with the 16 invited teams for the 2018-19 campaign confirmed by the EFL.
The competition has been widely criticised after it was revamped with invited academy teams from the Premier League and Championship playing against League One and Two teams.
Organisers say the format is designed to give the "country’s leading young footballers the opportunity to taste 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".
The full list of invited U21 sides is: Arsenal, Newcastle United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Southampton, Chelsea, Stoke City, Everton, Swansea City, Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur, Leicester City, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Manchester City, West Ham United, Middlesbrough and West Bromwich Albion.
It will be a first team competition for Sunderland but there are still player eligibility rules, EFL clubs must play at least four qualifying outfield players.
A qualifying outfield player meets the following requirements: any player who started the previous or following first team fixture, any player who is in the top 10 players in terms of starting appearances that season, any player with 40 or more first team appearances in their career, and any player on loan from a Premier League Club or any EFL Category One Academy Club.
The group stage fixture draw will take place in July and the first group stage matches are currently scheduled to take place week commencing 3rd September.
There will be 16 groups of four teams, in each regionalised group there will be one invited team.
Invited U21 teams will play all group games away from home and the top two clubs qualify. In the event of a drawn game after 90 minutes, a penalty shootout will be held with an extra point for the winner.
Each EFL club receives £20,000 for taking part while there is £10,000 for a win and £5,000 for a draw in the group stage.
The overall winner of the competition wins £100,000.