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Barclays U21 Premier League: Competition format explained

Chelsea were crowned champions of the 2013/14 Barclays U21 Premier League

The Barclays Under-21 Premier League replaced the Premier Reserve League at the start of the 2012/13 season with the aim to enhance youth development and help transition players between the Academy and First Team.

Manchester United were crowned Barclays U21 Premier League champions in the competition’s first season after defeating Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the final at Old Trafford, while Chelsea sealed the 2013/14 title with a 2-1 final victory over Man Utd at the same venue.

The league has been set out with the following criteria:

  • In total, 24 clubs compete in the Barclays U21 Premier League, with each of the clubs having applied for ‘Category One’ status in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). There are 15 clubs from the Barclays Premier League and nine clubs from the Skybet Championship.
  • From the 2014/15 campaign, the 24 clubs will be split into two divisions.
  • The teams who finished 1st - 12th in the 2013/14 season will compete in Division 1 of the Barclays U21 Premier League, while 13th - 22nd will join new Category One clubs Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County in Division 2.
  • Clubs will play each club in their division twice, home and away.
  • There will be no play-offs, unlike the previous two seasons, and 1st place will be crowned champions.
  • The teams who finish 11th and 12th in Division 1 will be relegated, while the top two teams in Division 2 will be promoted.
  • There is no relegation from Division 2.

Other rules include:

  • Clubs are only allowed to field three outfield players over the age of 21, plus the goalkeeper is also permitted to be over 21.
  • Each club must host at least three league matches at their main stadium during the course of the season, which helps to enhance the matchday experience for the young players and fans. In addition, the overall final will also be played in the main stadium of the home club.
  • Member clubs’ training grounds or Academy venues will be permitted for the staging of up to three home matches over the course of the league season.

The 24 clubs in the Barclays U21 Premier League are:

  • Arsenal
  • Aston Villa
  • Blackburn Rovers
  • Bolton Wanderers
  • Brighton & Hove Albion
  • Chelsea
  • Derby County
  • Everton
  • Fulham
  • Leicester City
  • Liverpool
  • Manchester City
  • Manchester United
  • Middlesbrough
  • Newcastle United
  • Norwich City
  • Reading
  • Southampton
  • Stoke City
  • Sunderland
  • Tottenham Hotspur
  • West Bromwich Albion
  • West Ham United
  • Wolverhampton Wanderers

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Key Points

  • The Barclays U21 Premier League replaced the Premier Reserve League at the start of the 2012/13 season
  • There are 24 clubs entered, of which 15 are from the Barclays Premier League and nine are from the Skybet Championship
  • The 24 clubs play in two 12-team divisions from the 2014/15 campaign
  • The teams in 11th and 12th in Division 1 will be relegated, while Division's top 2 will be promoted
  • Derby County and Brighton & Hove Albion are new Category One clubs for the 2014/15 season
  • Chelsea were crowned champions for the 2013/14 season after defeating Man Utd 2-1 in the final at Old Trafford