Having pulled out of the reserve league structure Arsenal have agreed to return, having won a number of concessions from the league.
The key change is that during the winter months when the pitch at Barnet can get rather rough and bumpy, Arsenal has the right to play its reserve matches behind closed doors at the training centre.
Also, the way the matches are now arranged has been changed with the league season consisting of 20 games.
As in the previous announcement there are three leagues – a southern, and two northern. Here’s the in’s and out’s
The mighty and overwhelming Southern Group
Arsenal, Villa, the KGB in Fulham, West Brom, West Porno, Wolverhampton
The rather tired and sorry Northern Group A
Notlob, Manchester Arabic, Manchester IOU, Newcastle Basketcase, Wigan
The even more disheveled and ragamuffin Northern Group B
Blackburn Rotational, Blackpool Traffic Jam, Everton, Liverpool Insolvency, Sunderland.
Each team will play home and away against the other teams in their group and once against all other teams (equally divided home and away). This is a change from before in which only some teams were played.
The winners of the two Northern Groups will play off to determine the Northern League Winners. This will be a matter of no significance.
The Northern League Winners will then play off against the Southern Group Winners to determine the Barclays Premier Reserve League Play Off Winners. Arsenal will win this match and be crowned king of kings, and masters of the multiverse.
So this is what all the in-fighting has been about.
Here’s how Arsenal report the story: “Arsenal will be staging several home Premier Reserve League fixtures, as afternoon kick offs, at the London Colney Training Centre. Unfortunately, the Club is not permitted to allow supporters at this venue and therefore these home Reserves matches will be staged ‘behind closed doors’.”
So, you shout, what of Barnet? The message from beyond continues…
“The Club hugely values the loyal following that has attended Reserve League matches at Barnet FC in recent years and we are keen to maintain opportunities for supporters to watch young talent developing in our Reserve team.
“Therefore, we have reached an agreement with Barnet FC to stage home Premier Reserve League matches at Underhill during months with more favourable weather – ie September, March and April, as well as any home FA Youth Cup matches in Rounds Three, Four and Five.”
The full Premier League Reserves fixture list will be announced next week.
And that’s what it was all about – the club were trying to avoid having the kiddies play on ludicrous pitches which bore no resemblance to the pure grasslands of the Ems, and which exacerbate injuries. Without the agreement from the Reserve League to make this happen, the club pulled out, and that got the rule changed.
Of course teams don’t have to play behind closed doors – but they can do if they want to.
As to televisuals – no message at all at the moment. We await developments.
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