The news that the U21 development squad system has been changed to U23 has escaped the attention of a lot of attention since its low ley release in July. The Premier League have formed Premier League 2 which has two divisions of twelve teams each including Villa, Wolves and Baggies. Each team can field 4 overage players including a goalkeeper while they have to play a number of games at the clubs main stadium. Fifteen of the 24 clubs in the PL 2 are from the Premier League with nine from the Championship. All are category one academy status.
They are allowed to compete in the Premier League International Cup and the Premier League Cup.
Only twelve of the 24 teams in PL 2 are invited to play in the PL International Cup with only Villa chosen from our teams. They are in a group with Celtic, Norwich and Valencia.
However what I find unacceptable is that 16 Premier League 2 teams will also compete in the EFL trophy, previously known as the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy, Leyland Daf Trophy etc.
This was always for teams from League 1 and 2. And gave those smaller teams and, more importantly, their supporters a day out at Wembley. Now it looks like it’s been hijacked by the Premier League bosses as surely one of their sixteen teams will win it. (Hopefully not).
Once again those suits running the Premier League show no empathy of sympathy with those less well-off clubs in League One and League two who have played a massive part in the history and tradition of our national game. It is another consequence of the unfair 4 tier academy system.
Why has this happened? Well the Premier League say it’s because the average age of players making their debut is between 22 and 23 years and they want to ensure that players are ready for the step up to first team football in terms of intensity and physicality and to be fair I think that is spot on as the previous format lacked in preparing players with a real understanding about first team competitive football.