Newcastle United is one of 17 Premier League teams that will play in a new Under-21 competition announced today by the Barclays Premier League, and the goal is to bridge the gap between the U18 Academy teams and the first teams at English clubs.
Richard Scudamore – Barclays Premier League CEO
Teams from 17 Premier League and 6 npower Championship clubs – it’s those clubs who applied for Category One status for their Youth Academies – will be divided into three groups, although not by geography.
Southampton, Watford and Tottenham are part of Newcastle’s group, as are Sunderland, and there will be play-offs and a final each year.
The teams will consist of U21 players in the main, with each team being able to have three over-age outfield players and one over-age goalkeeper, and it seems to follow closely the Olympics criteria, but is U21 rather than U23.
In truth, the Newcastle Reserve team has been like this for a few years now, with the average age of the side often around 20.
This is how Premier League CEO Richard Scudamore explained the new competition:
“Each stage of a player’s development is tailored to ensuring they have the best possible chance of progressing.”
“The new Barclays Under-21 Premier League addresses one of the most critical points – the transition from academy football to the highest standards in the first team.”
“We believe this competitive environment, where fans can also come along to watch the next generation of Premier League and international players, will help deliver more talented home grown boys to that next level.”
Here are the National groupings:
National Group 1 – eight teams: Arsenal, Blackburn, Bolton, Everton, Norwich, Reading, West Brom, West Ham.
National Group 2 – eight teams: Aston Villa, Manchester United, Newcastle, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, Watford.
National Group 3 – seven teams: Chelsea, Crystal Palace, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Wolves.
The groupings are made up of those teams who applied for Category One status for their U18 Youth Academies, and it’s a good job it wasn’t those clubs who were given Category One status, because Newcastle missed out, and we have been classed as Category Two.
This seems a sensible move by the Premier League.