Skip to content
en-gb GO TO bet365 Sports
  1. Football
  2. EFL Trophy

EFL Trophy: Dates, history, format & more

The EFL Trophy is an annual knockout competition which is open to clubs from League One and League Two, as well as under-21 outfits from the Premier League and the Championship.

The EFL Trophy provides teams from the lower echelons of the Football League and academies with the opportunity to claim some domestic silverware and reward their supporters with a trip to Wembley.

Clubs from League One and Two were joined by 16 under-21 teams from the Premier League and Championship in the 2016/17 season and that is how things have remained.

Bolton are the current champions after they beat Plymouth, who were subsequently promoted to the Championship, 4-0 in the final at Wembley.

What is the history of the EFL Trophy?

This secondary competition was launched in the 1981/82 season and was known as the Football League Group Cup, initially ran as an invitational tournament for 32 clubs from all four levels of the Football League.

However, in 1992 the tournament was rebranded as the Football League Trophy, coinciding with the reorganisation of the First Division which is now the Premier League as we know it.

Between 2000 and 2006 teams from the National League, which is level 5 on the football pyramid were invited to participate.

For the 2006/07 tournament onwards, the invitations for non-league outfits were abolished and this resulted in eight sides receiving byes to the second round.

In 2016, the competition rebranded to the current EFL Trophy and that was the first season under the new name which saw 16 category academies of Premier League and EFL Championship clubs join the competition.

What is the format of the EFL Trophy?

There are 64 teams involved from the outset and that includes 48 clubs from League One and Two and 16 under-21 teams from the Premier League and Championship.

Those clubs are split into 16 groups of four teams and will be organised on a regionalised basis, each group featuring one invited club.

All clubs will play each other once, either home or away, but academy outfits will always play their group matches away from home.

Clubs will be awarded three points for a win and one point for a draw, but in the event of a stalemate a penalty shoot-out will be held and the winning team will earn an additional point.

The top two teams in each group will progress to the knockout stage and in round two, the group winners will be seeded and the group runners-up will be unseeded in the draw.

The final has been played at the new Wembley since 2008, having temporarily been held at the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff.

Who are the most successful teams in the EFL Trophy?

Bristol City, currently exempt from performing in the competition as they are a Championship side, are the most decorated team in EFL Trophy history with three wins.

The Robins won the tournament in 1986, 2003 and 2015, while also finishing runner-up in 1987 and 2000.

Carlisle, Grimsby, Birmingham, Blackpool, Wigan, Swansea, Stoke, Rotherham and Port Vale have all won it on two occasions.

Bolton also took their tally to two EFL Trophy wins with last year’s success over Plymouth and they were also unfortunate to finish runners-up to Bristol City in 1986.

When does the EFL Trophy start this season?

The EFL Trophy gets underway on 5th September, with the quarter-finals taking place on the week commencing 29th January, 2024.

The semi-finals figure on the week commencing 19th February, 2024 and the final will be held at Wembley on Sunday 7th April 2024.

Who are the favourites to win the EFL Trophy this year?

Teams expected to challenge for the League One title tend to fare well in the betting for the EFL Trophy and third-tier favourites Derby head the betting at 10/1.

Reigning champions Bolton, another big fish in League One, are 12/1 to defend their crown with Barnsley, Portsmouth and Peterborough all available at 14/1.

Another team installed at 14/1, and perhaps the most intriguing of them all, is League Two title favourites Wrexham.

The Hollywood-owned club won the National League title last season with a record-breaking 111 point total, but are expected to post back-to-back promotions and can compete financially with those at the top of League One.

Elsewhere, Reading and Blackpool, two teams relegated from the Championship last season, are 16/1 shots.

Related Articles

bet365 uses cookies

We use cookies to deliver a better and more personalised service. For more information, see our Cookie Policy

New to bet365? Bet £10 & Get £30 in Free Bets

Join Now

Min deposit requirement. Free Bets are paid as Bet Credits and are available for use upon settlement of qualifying bets. Min odds, bet and payment method exclusions apply. Returns exclude Bet Credits stake. Time limits and T&Cs apply.