The controversial Checkatrade Trophy looks set to get a three-year extension – despite delivering some of the lowest attendances in Carlisle United’s history.

Fan boycotts have dogged the competition since the introduction of Premier League and Championship under-21 teams.

In United’s case that led to a second-lowest Brunton Park gate of just 882 against Stoke’s Under-21s this season.

Six of United’s 10 smallest all-time crowds have come since the Trophy invited “B Teams” in 2016.

That trend has been reflected at many other lower-league clubs – but the format now looks set to continue until at least 2022.

In a statement following a fan forum at Wembley on Monday night – which also confirmed that Checkatrade’s three-year sponsorship would not be renewed - the EFL claimed the “future of the competition is secure”.

They added that an “agreement in principle” was in place with EFL clubs “that will see the competition continue in its current format for a further three seasons, subject to an acceptable level of funding being in place.”

No formal vote has yet been taken but the News & Star has been told that the EFL has this week canvassed clubs for an official view on the prospect of extending the format.

United and their fellow clubs must give the league their decision by Friday.

Blues chief executive Nigel Clibbens said: “The club was only asked [on Monday] and we have got until December 14.

“When we have made our decision we will of course tell the fans what it is.”

United will collate the views of directors on both its operational and holdings boards between now and Friday.

It is the holdings board, though, that will make the final decision on the club’s behalf.

The CUFC Holdings directors are co-owners Andrew Jenkins, John Nixon and Steven Pattison, CUOSC’s Billy Atkinson, Edinburgh Woollen Mill’s group financial controller John Jackson and Lord Clark.

Supporters’ trust CUOSC have already underlined their opposition to the Trophy format.

In a statement to the News & Star they said: “CUOSC directors are opposed to the continuation of the Trophy in its current format and have made that known.”

Last summer clubs were asked on a general basis whether they were happy for the EFL to continue to pursue the Trophy in its current form with a view to gaining new sponsorship and the relevant financial support from the Premier League.

Now they have been asked on a more formal basis if they are ready to support the existing format for another three seasons.

It is understood that no alternatives have been tabled to clubs at this point. Nor have the implications of clubs rejecting the format been spelt out.

It is not clear whether a formal vote will follow once clubs’ official views have been received by Friday.

Previously clubs have voted in favour of the Under-21 format which has brought extra Premier League funding.

The EFL have said they are “engaging the market” to secure a new sponsor for the trophy.

Monday’s forum saw former Bristol Rovers, Blackpool, QPR and Millwall boss Ian Holloway speak out in favour of the Under-21s’ involvement.

He said he had not liked it at first but now believes it is a “much better” format.

Despite a number of three-figure crowds in this season’s group stages, Holloway also claimed the regionalised draw was “important for the supporters, because there is less travel and more local derbies.”

United were knocked out of this season’s group stage.