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October 2016
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Coming soon to a ground near you – Premier League 2

by Andrew Crawshaw

What? – The Premier League 2 will replace the Under 21 Premier League from the start of the 2016/17 season.  According to the ‘powers that be’ the competition will have “a greater focus on a level of play in terms of technicality, physicality and intensity to bring players as close to first-team experience as possible.”

In order to achieve this the age limit for players has risen from U21 to U23 so all players born after 1 January 1993 will be eligible.

In addition for any game the club may field 3 outfield players plus a goalkeeper who are over age.

Who? – There are 24 teams in all taking part in the competition, they comprise the clubs who applied for Category one status in the Elite Player Performance Plan.  There are 15 clubs from the Premier League and 9 from the Championship

The Clubs are split into two divisions of 12 with the finishing order of last season’s U21 tournament being the deciding factor as to which division each team starts in.  Each club will play each other twice in the season (once home and once away).  The team that wins Division 1 are champions, the bottom 2 get relegated to Division 2.  The winner of division 2 get automatic promotion, the teams from  places 2 to 5 go into a playoff competition for the second promotion place.

Where? – Each team must host at least three league matches at their main stadium during the course of the season and the training grounds or Academy venues may also be used for up to another three games in the season.

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

So who is likely to feature in our team?

The obvious players are those who are over 18 but not yet established as part of the First Team Squad or known to be out on loan.  I make that a core of 10 players :-

Goalkeepers – Iliev and Huddart

Right Back – Chiori Johnson

Left Back – Tyrell Robinson

Centre Back – Marc Bola

Midfield – Ismael Bennacer, Aaron Eyoma, Ainsley Maitland- Niles and Gedion Zelalem

Forward – Chuba Akpom (although he may well become an established first team player very quickly)

Of the players who are still technically U18, I would expect the following to also be part of the PL2 squad


Right Back – Jordi Osei-Tutu

Left Back

Centre Back – Krystian Bielik, and Kristopher Da Graca

Midfield – Ben Sheaf, Chris Willock, Vlad Dragomir, Marcus McGuane

Forward – Stephy Mavididi, Yassin Fortune, Edward Nkietah, Donyell Malen

Without players dropping down from the First Team Squad, I reckon we are short at CM and LB but there is still time for reinforcements to arrive.

When do the games start?

The season opener is this coming Friday 12 August at Meadow Park BorehamWood.  Kick-off 19:00 when we play Reading.  Entry is normally free so no excuses not to be there.

The second game is away to Man City on Friday 19th and on Friday 26th August we are at home to Liverpool at the Emirates again 19:00 kick-off (this one will probably cost a fiver).

A full fixture list is on

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10 comments to Coming soon to a ground near you – Premier League 2

  • Robert

    Andrew, apart from the age limit change, what’s the difference?

    “a greater focus on a level of play in terms of technicality, physicality and intensity to bring players as close to first-team experience as possible.” sounds like corporate-speak, aka marketing guff, to me.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Great work , Andrew . Thanks.

  • Bernard Cordell

    Do you know if you can pay £5.00 on the night for games at the Emirates or do you have to pre-book?

  • Andrew Crawshaw


    Sounded like marketing speak to me too – that’s why I quoted it verbatim.


    I’m sure you will need to pre-book and print out the tickets at home.

  • Tony Attwood

    Barnard, the rules about paying for the under 21s seemed to change last year – and I recall buying £3 ticket in advance but they tend to advertise it quite well on and Andrew usually publishes the details in his match preview

  • Tony Attwood

    Robert, I think the difference is that this does become closer to a reserve team league like the old Football Combination, in that you can have under 23s in it and 3 over age players outfield.

    It depends how the clubs will treat the new version, but the thinking behind this change is the changes to the loan system which are about to come into being.

    I’ll try and put up an article about that before we get to the Manchester Airport v Arsenal preview

  • Robert

    Andrew, Huddart has gone out on loan for the season. However, Macey is now classed as an over-21 player, so he could play under these new rules. I can’t say I’d view that as more beneficial than a loan spell. Besides, his player profile says, “The confident youngster will have his sights set on another loan spell as he looks to continue his rapid development.”

  • porter

    Long overdue ,the gap between kids and adult football has been too wide and we have seen too many players find their career development stalled by not having an adult reserve league. Hopefully now the fringe players will have a bit more to aim at as opposed to cameo appearances in early round cup competitions.

  • Robert

    Thanks, Tony. One problem I can see is that unless the PL Squad of 25 rules are changed (from Under-21 to Under-23), a player like Macey would be limited to PL2 appearances, while Chris Willock could appear for either.

  • Rich


    Exciting times for the youth I reckon. Very impressed that u19s won the tournament in South Africa while missing a number of the best players available- Willock, Bielek, Reine-Adelaide, Johnson, Hinds, M Bola, Fortune.

    Then there’s Iwobi, Akpom, Crowley. Maitland Niles, Zelalem

    Finally, there were still enough youth players left to win a friendly last week against Brentford- u18s, presumably- despite having the team over in South Africa.

    I think we’re teeming with talent at present and it feels like more than at any time, though that might just be a consequence of it being easier to follow youth teams and see some of their games than before.

    Interesting thing for me this year is if we continue policy of loaning out most of the best players at 18 or keep more of them for the first year back of what’ll be a tougher league.

    Again would mean a change of policy, but I’d love to see us give Holding and Chambers a few games there as a partnership, if first team needs allow