Premier League 2: Competition format explained

Trent Alexander-Arnold, PL2, Liverpool

New Under-23 competition's focus on technicality, physicaility and intensity gives a taste of the first-team experience

Premier League 2 is a new competition that replaced the Under-21 Premier League from 2016/17, with a greater focus on technicality, physicality and intensity to bring players as close to first-team experience as possible.

The age limit for players has risen from Under-21 to Under-23.

The league will take on the same format of two tiers, Division 1 and Division 2, with 12 teams in each, and the factor of promotion and relegation.

The 24 clubs who compete each applied for 'Category One' status in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). There are 15 clubs from the Premier League and nine clubs from the Championship.

Everton 0-1 Sunderland, PL2
Everton won the Premier League 2 Division 1 title in 2016/17, with one match to spare

All players born after 1 January 1993 for the 2016/17 season are eligible to play, and the format stays as follows:

  • There are 12 teams in Division 1 and 12 in Division 2, with every club playing each other once at home and once away
  • In Division 1, the team who finish first are champions
  • The bottom two teams in Division 1 get relegated to Division 2
  • In Division 2, the league winners get automatic promotion to Division 1
  • Teams ranked second, third, fourth and fifth go into a promotion play-off
  • Second plays fifth place at home and third hosts fourth in the semi-finals, both at the club’s main stadium, while the final takes place at the home ground of the team who finished highest in the league
  • All play-off matches are one-off ties, decided by extra-time and then penalties if the match is level after 120 minutes
  • There is no relegation from Division 2
Swansea City celebrate winning PL2 Division 2 title
Swansea finished 11 points clear of second-placed Wolves in the 2016/17 Division 2 season

Other rules include:

  • Each team can field a goalkeeper over the age limit and up to three ‘over-age’ outfield players in every match
  • 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 players and fans.
  • 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.

Everton have secured the 2016/17 PL2 Division 1 title with a match to spare, while Swansea City won Division 2 by a margin of 11 points.

Manchester United were crowned champions in the competition's first season, when it replaced the Premier Reserve League in 2012/13, beating Tottenham Hotspur 3-2 in the final at Old Trafford.

Chelsea sealed the 2013/14 title with a 2-1 final victory over Man Utd at the same venue, before the Red Devils reclaimed the crown in 2014/15 and won it again in 2015/16. 

Middlesbrough were the first Division 2 champions when promotion and relegation was introduced in 2014/15, before Derby County clinched the title in 2015/16. 

Premier League 2

Teams in Division 1
Arsenal, Chelsea, Derby County, Everton, Leicester City, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Reading, Southampton, Sunderland, Tottenham Hotspur

Teams in Division 2
Aston Villa, Blackburn Rovers, Brighton & Hove Albion, Fulham, Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Norwich City, Swansea City, Stoke City, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers

Premier League 2 Division 1 winners

2016/17 Everton
 Manchester United
2014/15 Manchester United
2013/14 Chelsea
2012/13 Manchester United

Premier League Division 2 winners

2016/17 Swansea City
Derby County
2014/15 Middlesbrough

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