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Premier League Cup: Format explained

09/10/2017
Swansea City lift Premier League Cup

Swansea beat Reading in the 2016/17 final of an U23 cup competition adopts the UEFA Champions League format

From 2016/17 the Premier League Cup replaced the Under-21 Premier League Cup, which was introduced in 2013/14 to enhance the competitiveness of the Professional Development Phase calendar with knockout football alongside the regular league campaign.

The new competition is in the UEFA Champions League style with 32 clubs in the main group stage, replacing the straight knockout in the U21 Premier League Cup. Like Premier League 2, it will be contested between Under-23 teams, with each side allowed three over-age outfield players and a goalkeeper born before 1 January 1994. The format is as follows:

  • Qualifying stage With more than 32 clubs enterting the 2017/18 competition, a qualifying knock-out stage took place between Category 3 and 4 clubs to determine who joins Category 1 and 2 sides in the Group stage
  • Group stage The tournament will be split into eight groups of four clubs, with each team playing their opposing clubs home and away. The top two teams advance to the knockout stage.
  • Knockout stage The last 16, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final will all be one-off knockout ties. If the ties are level after 90 minutes, they go to extra-time and then penalties if the teams still can't be separated. 

2017/18 Premier League Cup Groups

Group A: Birmingham City, Derby County, Nottingham Forest, Middlesbrough
Group B: Blackburn Rovers, Cardiff City, Southampton, Watford
Group C: AFC Bournemouth, Bury, Norwich City, Wolverhampton Wanderers
Group D: Burnley, Colchester United, Newcastle United, Swansea City
Group E: Aston Villa, Ipswich Town, Sheffield United, West Bromwich Albion
Group F: Barnsley, Everton, Leicester City, Portsmouth
Group G: Bristol City, Charlton Athletic, Liverpool, Stoke City
Group H: Brighton & Hove Albion, Exeter City, Hull City, Sunderland

Swansea City (pictured above) claimed the 2016/17 trophy, their second of the season following the Premier League 2 Division 2 title, with a 2-0 win over Reading at the Liberty Stadium. 

West Ham captain Reece Oxford lifts the 2015/16 U21 Premier League Cup
West Ham's academy side won the Premier League Cup in 2015/16

West Ham United defeated Hull City in a penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 aggregate draw in the 2015/16 final.

Southampton beat Blackburn in the 2014/15 U21 PL Cup final
Southampton beat Blackburn in the 2014/15 U21 PL Cup final

After Djair Parfitt-Williams gave West Ham a 1-0 victory in front of over 10,000 fans in the first leg at the Boleyn Ground, Will Annan levelled the tie in stoppage-time at Hull's KC Stadium, before goalkeeper Raphael Spiegel was the hero for the visiting Hammers.

West Ham’s Premier League Cup success followed the 2014/15 triumph by Southampton, in front of over 12,000 spectators at St Mary's Stadium for their second leg victory against Blackburn Rovers. Reading won the inaugural competition in 2013/14.

Reading beat Man City to win the inaugural U21 PL Cup
Reading beat Man City to win the inaugural U21 PL Cup

Premier League Cup winners

2016/17 Swansea City
2015/16
West Ham United
2014/15 Southampton
2013/14 Reading

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