A host of top English clubs snub shambolic EFL Trophy venture

Manchester United and Liverpool are still thought to be weighing up their options, but the pair are believed to be leaning in favour of not participating while Manchester City have made a decision but are not prepared to make it public.

If all six of the sides decide to pull out it would be a blow for the Football League, who had already attracted criticism from clubs and fans worried about the possible introduction of Premier League B teams into the EFL, with top-flight teams able to field five players older than 21 in any EFL Trophy fixtures.

Everton, Stoke and West Brom have initially said they will take part while it is understood Southampton – who won the competition six years ago – are planning to participate.

The reformatted tournament will eventually see 64 teams split into 16 groups of four, on a north/south regional basis, each containing an invited club; and they will play each other once, with the invited club playing one game at home.

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