The Associate Members Cup has been under plenty of rebrands and rejigs over the years but now the
Auto-Windscreens Sheild, Autoglass, Johnstone's Paint, Football League Trophy, EFL Trophy has had an ever bigger shakeup as 16 Category 1 Academies have been invited to join the 48 League One and Two sides in this season's competition.
"Hey!" I hear you say, "Didn't Reading just get their category one status renewed, does that mean we're in?!" Yes we did but sadly no we're not.
Of the 16 Academies invited in, Newcastle were the only team outside the Premier League to get the call. Here's the full list of U21 sides you can see in the competition next season.
Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Southampton, Stoke City, Sunderland, Swansea City, Tottenham Hotspur, West Bromwich Albion and West Ham United.
Those clubs listed above will be forced to play at least six U21 players in each game but with five open slots it very well means that someone like a Jack Wilshere returning from his next injury could be taking on Barnet. Moreover, at least one game hosted by the Academy sides will have to be played at their home stadium, so you could get the surreal experience of Leyton Orient taking on West Ham U21 in a virtually empty Olympic Stadium.
So have Reading been hard done by missing out?
From a youth development standpoint it's certainly a missed opportunity to give players valuable experience against older players but from a fans perspective and a manager's point of view it's not a bad idea skipping this one. The 64 teams will each have to play at least three games and you'll need to play seven games if you want to get to Wembley. When we were in the competition proper the gates were some of the worst on record and I can't see that improving a great deal, especially if it was mostly a reserve side. Watching 23 home games plus X number of away & cup ties is probably enough football for most!
Still, how do you feel about it folks? Are you gutted we've missed out or was this a good swerve?