More details of the controversial new-look EFL Trophy have emerged.
Previously the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy for League 1 and League 2 clubs, including Morecambe, the Football League announced earlier this month that 16 “category-one” academies from Premier League clubs would be added for the 2016-2017 season.
Now the Press Association reports that top flight clubs will be able to field Under 23 teams with four overage players in the new 64-club format that will feature 16 groups of four.
Many have already argued the plan is an attempt to make it easier for Premier League B teams to ultimately join the lower leagues.
Campaign group Against League 3 (AL3) are amongst those to hit out at the plans.
Campaign manager James Cave said: “The EFL and its clubs are well aware football fans do not, and have never, supported these plans.
“AL3 has regularly canvassed supporters and sought their opinion, as have organisations like Supporters Direct.
“Our studies show over 75 per cent of lower league fans are against the implementation of B teams.
“Yet the B teams idea is a mere symptom of a far larger problem in English football: supporters are unrepresented by our FA, our leagues and often our clubs.
“Following England’s defeat to Iceland, it has never been more necessary for fans to question what is really being done to our sport.”
Invites have been sent to the 15 Premier League clubs with category-one academy status and Newcastle United, as they finished higher in the league pyramid last season than the five clubs with category-one status in the EFL.
The competition is also set to see penalties used to settle draws in the group games, with the successful team earning an extra point.