Sunday 08 September 2013
The Premier League is launching a new cup tournament, the Under-21 Premier League Cup, this season, with the draw for the first qualifying rounds due to be made on Monday 9 September.
"It is a competitive opportunity for players up and down the country to engage in a meaningful competition"
Following the success of the inaugural Barclays Under-21 Premier League last season, the 2013/14 campaign will be augmented with the introduction of a national cup competition for academies of all categories.
Fifty-two academies have entered the U21 Premier League Cup with the draw for Qualifying Round 1 and Qualifying Round 2 due to take place at 11am on Monday 9 September at the offices of the Premier League in Central London.
The one-off fixtures in the competition will be played on a regional basis until the Round of 16, whereupon the draw becomes national. The final will be played over two legs home and away at the main stadia of both teams.
"The introduction of an under-21 cup competition is one way to create an opportunity for players up and down the country to play in a meaningful competition, to enhance the Barclays Under-21 Premier League," Ged Roddy, the Premier League's Director of Youth, told premierleague.com.
With all cup matches due to be played in stadia the new competition is designed to help the transition of youngsters from academy to professional players while prolonging the incentive for more clubs to win silverware throughout the season.
"It will also throw up match-ups between different categories of academies so Category 3 clubs may face Category 1 clubs"
"It will also throw up match-ups between different categories of academies so Category 3 clubs may face clubs from Category 1, which will present different challenges," Roddy said.
Regional qualifiers will be held to progress to the round of 32, at which stage Category 1 academies will enter the competition. The draw for the first two qualifying rounds will be conducted by Chris Casper, the Premier League's Club Support Manager for Youth and former Manchester United defender, and Roddy.
|Category 1||Category 2||Category 3|
|Bolton Wanderers||Birmingham City||Doncaster Rovers|
|Everton||Coventry City||Hull City|
|Leicester City||Crewe Alexandra||Notts County
|Manchester City||Derby County||Preston North End|
|Middlesbrough||Huddersfield Town||Wigan Athletic|
|Newcastle United||Leeds United|
|Stoke City||Nottingham Forest|
|West Bromwich Albion||Sheffield Wednesday|
|Category 1||Category 2
|Arsenal||Brighton & Hove Albion||AFC Wimbledon|
|Chelsea||Cardiff City||Bristol Rovers|
||Crystal Palace||Colchester United|
|Reading||Queens Park Rangers||Gillingham|
|Southampton||Swansea City||Peterborough United
|West Ham United||Plymouth Argyle|
The 16 teams involved in Monday's regional draw for Qualifying Round 1 will be Category 3 academies only. Burnley, Doncaster, Hull City, Notts County, Preston North End and Wigan Athletic will appear in the draw for the Northern section, with AFC Wimbledon, Bournemouth, Bristol Rovers, Colchester United, Exeter City, Gillingham, Peterborough United, Plymouth Argyle, Torquay and Watford the sides drawn in the Southern section. Matches for Qualifying Round 1 must be played within 14 days of the week beginning 23 September 2013.
After drawing the fixtures for Qualifying Round 1 Casper and Roddy will then conduct the draw for Qualifying Round 2, the stage at which the 17 Category 2 academies enter the competition. There are 10 Category 2 academies in the Northern section of the draw for Qualifying Round 2: Barnsley, Birmingham City, Coventry City, Crewe Alexandra, Derby County, Huddersfield Town, Leeds United, Nottingham Forest, Sheffield United and Sheffield Wednesday.
The seven Category 2 academies in the Southern section for Qualifying Round 2 are: Brighton & Hove Albion, Bristol City, Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Millwall, Queens Park Rangers and Swansea City. Again, due to there being an odd number of teams, one club will be awarded a bye in Qualifying Round 2. Matches for Qualifying Round 2 must be played within 14 days of the week beginning 21 October 2013.
Nineteen Category 1 academies will enter the competition in the round of 32, where they will be joined by the 13 successful Category 2 and Category 3 academies, in another regional draw, the date for which has yet to be determined. The 11 Category 1 academies in the Northern section of the draw for the round of 32 are Blackburn Rovers, Bolton Wanderers, Everton, Leicester City, Manchester City, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Stoke City, Sunderland, West Bromwich Albion and Wolverhampton Wanderers. The eight Category 1 academies in the Southern section of the draw for the round of 32 are Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Fulham, Norwich City, Reading, Southampton and West Ham United.
The results of the draw for Qualifying Round 1 and Qualifying Round 2 will be published on premierleague.com at 11pm on Monday 9 September.
Qualifying Round 1 – week beginning 23 September 2013*
Qualifying Round 2 – week beginning 21 October 2013
Round of 32 – week beginning 18 November 2013
Round of 16 – week beginning 16 December 2013
Quarter Final – week beginning 27 January 2013
Semi- Final – week beginning 22 February 2013
Final – week beginning 17 March 2013
* Ties to be played within 14 days of proposed date
To find out more about the Under-21 Premier League Cup click here>>
You can follow developments in the Under-21 Premier League Cup and the Barclays Under-21 Premier League throughout the season on Twitter with the Premier League's account @premierleague or via the respective hashtags #U21PLCup and #BU21PL.