Checkatrade Trophy Rules: Everything you need to know


Tranmere return to the Checkatrade Trophy this season after three years out of it. We thought it worth making a quick and easy-to-read version of the Checkatrade Trophy rules for 2018/19.

Since we last took part in the competition, there have been plenty of changes and publicity. Aside from a change of name, the competition has also seen the inclusion of 16 selected Academy teams (under-21s) from around the country.

Ahead of tomorrow night’s game, here is an easy at-a-glance overview of the Checkatrade Trophy rules, prize money and general competition format.

Group stage

Points awarded:

Lose – no points
Draw – one point, then match goes to penalties.
Win penalty shoot-out – one additional point
Win outright: 3 points


If teams are tied on the same number of points at the end of the group stage, the following will kick-in to decide position. In priority order:

  1. Goal difference
  2. Goals for
  3. Wins after normal time
  4. Record against each other in the group
  5. If all remains level, there will be a “drawing of lots”

Post group stage

After the group stage, the competition becomes straight knock-out. The top two in each group will qualify for the round of 32.

Round of 32

  • Regionalised (north and south)
  • Group winners will be drawn only against runners-up from other groups
  • One leg
  • 90 minutes, straight to penalties in the event of draw
  • Teams cannot be drawn against teams from the same group

Round of 16

  • Regionalised (north and south)
  • One leg
  • 90 minutes, straight to penalties in the event of draw

Quarter Final

  • No regionalisation
  • One leg
  • 90 minutes, straight to penalties in the event of draw


  • No regionalisation
  • One leg
  • 90 minutes, straight to penalties in the event of draw


  • Played at Wembley
  • Extra-time to be played if scores are level. Penalty shoot-out following that if scored remain level.

Team selection

Different team selection rules apply for EFL clubs than they do for under-21 teams. In a nutshell, Tranmere must:

Select at least four qualifying outfield players (does not include goalkeepers) in the starting line-up. A qualifying player is essentially one of the following;

  • Played the last league game (Northampton) or will start the next league game (Colchester).
  • A player with 40 or more starting first team appearances in their career will also qualify as one of the four.
  • Is among the list of ten players at the club with the highest number of starting appearances this season.

Failure to meet these requirements will result in a fine of up to £5,000

“Invited” clubs, or under-21 teams, play by a different set of rules. So, to put it in to Tranmere context, when Rovers face Manchester City next month, City must:

  • Select at least six players on the team sheet who were aged under 21 on 30th June, 2018.
  • Not field more than two players who are 21 or older, and;
  • Not field more than two players who have made 40 or more appearances in a first team fixture.
  • There are other rules that go in to more detail, but they’re the headline ones to be aware of.

Match Proceeds

  • After all costs, clubs will take 45% of proceeds each.
  • Home clubs will be responsible for bearing any losses as a result of hosting matches during the group stage.
  • At its absolute discretion, the EFL may reimburse home clubs for losses incurred in hosting matches.

Prize Money

As far as we’re away, the financial rewards from last season remain in place for the 2018/19 campaign, with a total prize money pot of £3million available to clubs.

It is distributed as follows:

  • Participation fee: £20,000 (every club receives this)
  • £10,000 for group stage win
  • £5,000 for group stage draw
  • Round Two: £20,000 for win
  • Round three: £40,000 for win
  • Quarter-Final: £50,000 for win
  • Runner-up: £50,000
  • Winner: £100,000

To put it in to context, if Tranmere were to grab two wins during the group stage and eventually progress to the quarter finals, they would pocket £120,000, for example.

You can see why the club is so keen to take it seriously as it could have a significant impact on Rovers as the season progresses.

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