|Founded||1983 (as the Associate Members' Cup)|
|Number of teams||64|
|Current champions||Barnsley (1st title)|
|Most successful club(s)||Bristol City (3 titles)|
|2016–17 EFL Trophy|
The EFL Trophy is an annual English association football knock-out competition open to the 48 clubs in Football League One and Football League Two, the third and fourth steps of the English football league system and, for the 2016–17 season, 16 under-21 sides from Premier League and Football League Championship teams.
The competition began in the 1983–84 season as the Associate Members' Cup but, in 1992, it was renamed the Football League Trophy, after the lower-division clubs became full members of the Football League. The competition replaced the short-lived Football League Group Cup. In 2016, the competition was renamed again, to its current title, the EFL Trophy. The competition had been associated with a title sponsor since its second edition: currently, it is known as the Checkatrade Trophy.
The first draws are made in August, then the competition runs as 16 regional groups, each containing four teams. The top two from each group qualify for the knockout stages before the two winners meet in late March or early April in the final at England's national stadium, Wembley. The basic north/south format of the competition has existed since its beginnings, although other details have varied over the years, including in some years inviting clubs from the semi-professional Conference Premier, and holding a round-robin group stage prior to moving into knock-out rounds.
The competition was inaugurated as the Associate Members' Cup in the 1983–84 season and followed on from the short-lived Football League Group Cup. The competition was renamed the Football League Trophy in 1992. This was in the same year of the reorganisation that followed after Division One broke away to form the Premier League and the Football League became responsible for just the lower three professional divisions. The competition was renamed again in 2016, becoming the EFL Trophy, coinciding with the Football League rebranding to the English Football League. The first season under the new name saw 16 category 1 academy/under-21 sides join the competition, a move which has been criticised for attempting to insert Premier League B teams into the English football pyramid.
64 teams enter from Round One including all 48 teams from League One and League Two along with 16 category 1 Premier League academy/under-21 sides. The competition will now feature 16 regional groups of four teams with the top two from each group progressing to the knockout stages.
In the first year of the tournament the 48 eligible Third and Fourth Division clubs were split into North and South sections of 24 teams each. The first round had 12 knockout ties in each section, and the second had six. The two losers with the 'narrowest' defeat were reprieved and joined the six other clubs in the regional quarter finals.
A major change was introduced for the 1985–86 tournament, with 8 three-team groups being set up in each of the two sections. Teams played one home and one away game and the group winners proceeded to the regional knockout stages. This format was tweaked the following season, with two teams qualifying from each group, resulting in an additional 'round of 16' knockout stage in each section.
For a number of seasons in the early to mid-1990s the competition ran with only seven three-team groups with two teams in each section getting a bye to the knockout stages. This was necessary due to League reorganisation and the demise of Aldershot and Maidstone United, which resulted in there being fewer than 48 teams in the 3rd and 4th levels.
The group phase was abolished for the 1996–97 tournament, with 8 teams in each section getting a bye to the second round, where they were joined by the 8 winners of the first round ties.
For the 2000–01 edition, 8 Football Conference sides also played in the tournament, resulting in 12 ties in each of the north/south sections in the 1st round, with only four teams in each section gaining a bye into the second round. The number of Conference entrants was increased to 12 starting in 2002–03, resulting in 14 1st round ties, and two teams in each regional section gaining a bye straight to the second round.
From the 2006–07 tournament Conference teams no longer participated, and the format reverted to 8 1st round teams in each section, with 8 sides gaining byes to the 2nd round.
The competition has always been contested by all teams at Levels Three and Four of the English football league system. During the 2016–17 season, 16 category 1 Premier League academy/under-21 sides will took part in the competition. However, between 2000–01 and 2005–06 the event was also open to a certain number of Football Conference sides, and these are listed by season below:
2005–06: Accrington Stanley, Aldershot Town, Cambridge United, Crawley Town, Dagenham & Redbridge, Exeter City, Halifax Town, Hereford United, Kidderminster Harriers, Morecambe, Stevenage Borough, Woking
The League Trophy final is held at the 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium in London, the English national football stadium. The first final in 1984 was to have been played at Wembley, but due to damage to the pitch caused during the Horse of the Year show it was moved to Hull. From 2001 to 2007 when the 1923 built Wembley was being rebuilt, the Football League Trophy finals were played at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.
- (1984/85–1986/87) Freight Rover Trophy
- (1987/88–1988/89) Sherpa Van Trophy
- (1989/90–1991/92) Leyland DAF Cup
- (1992/93–1993/94) Autoglass Trophy
- (1994/95–1999/2000) Auto Windscreens Shield
- (2000/01–2006/07) LDV Vans Trophy
- (2007/08–2015/16) Johnstone's Paint Trophy
- (2016/17–) Checkatrade Trophy
- "PREMIER LEAGUE TRIAL FOR THE TROPHY". EFL. 10 June 2016.
- "EFL Trophy: Checkatrade check in as trophy title sponsor". English Football League. 28 August 2016.
- "English Associate Members Cup 1983–1984 : Results". statto.com. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "English Autoglass Trophy 1991–1992 : Results". statto.com. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- "FOOTBALL LEAGUE TO BE RE-NAMED THE ENGLISH FOOTBALL LEAGUE". EFL. 12 November 2015.
- "AL3 Statement: New EFL B-Team plans". Against League 3. 10 June 2016.
- 1983–84 Southern 2nd Rnd results, with links to other stages – statto.com
- 1985–86 Northern 1st Rnd Group 1 results and table, with links to other groups/stages – statto.com
- 1986–87 Southern 1st Rnd results, with links to other stages – statto.com
- 1993–94 Northern 1st Rnd Group 1 results and table, with links to other groups/stages – statto.com
- 2002–03 Northern 1st rnd results, with links to other stages, and other seasons – statto.com
- 2004–05 Southern 1st Rnd results, and links to other rounds/seasons – statto.com Archived 6 January 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
- "Previous Winners Of The Johnstone's Paint Trophy". Previous Winners Of Major Domestic Football Cup Competitions. napit.co.uk. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010. Retrieved 10 June 2011.
- "Burnley 0–2 Wolves". Express & Star. 25 February 2015. Retrieved 9 July 2015.
- "Coventry 0–3 Crewe". BBC Sport. 2 May 2013. Retrieved 2 May 2013.
- "English Johnstone's Paint Trophy : Honours". Statto.com. Retrieved 25 September 2012.
- "EFL Trophy: Checkatrade check in as trophy title sponsor". English Football League. 4 August 2016.