Premier Academy League

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Premier Academy League
Country England
Founded 1997
Folded 2012
Divisions 4
Number of teams 40
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Football League Youth Alliance
Domestic cup(s) FA Youth Cup
Last champions Fulham (2nd title)
Most championships Arsenal (5 titles)
2012–13 season

The Premier Academy League (sometimes abbreviated as FAPAL) was the top level of youth football in England before it was to be replaced by a new league proposed by the Elite Player Performance Plan in 2012, which was accepted by the 72 member clubs of The Football League on 20 October 2011. This newly formed league was established in the 2015-2016 season and given the renamed title of the Professional Development League[1] It was contested between the Academy sides of the Premier League and some Football League clubs. It sat above the second tier of youth football, The Football League Youth Alliance, which is for the remaining Football League clubs and some Football Conference clubs with a Centre of Excellence. The most successful team is Arsenal, having won 5 titles.


The league was founded as the FA Premier Youth League in 1997, replacing regionally based youth leagues such as the South East Counties League as the top level of youth football. Clubs fielded Under-18 teams, with up to three Under-19 players allowed per match. 16 teams were split into Northern and Southern conferences of 8 teams each; teams played others within their own conference twice and teams from the other conference once. At the end of the season all the teams were paired into rounds of play-offs played over two legs in a knockout system. The inaugural winners were Arsenal, who beat Tottenham Hotspur 2–1 on aggregate in the final.

The competition was revamped in 1998 with the introduction of the Football Association's Academy system and renamed the Premier Academy League. The competition was divided into Under-19 and Under-17 sections, and more teams were admitted - 32 in total, split into four conferences (two Southern, two Northern) of eight teams each. Teams played those within their own conference twice and the team from the other conference in their region once, again with play-offs between all teams at the end.

The U19 competition was expanded to 40 teams in five groups of 8 in 1999–2000, before being reorganised into four groups of ten in 2000–01. The play-off format was revamped in 2003–04, with only the four group winners proceeding to the play-offs.

The league was reorganised yet again in 2004–05 season, with the league being reformed as a single Under-18 competition (players are aged under 18 on the preceding 31 August), with up to 3 Under-19 outfield players and 1 Under-19 goalkeeper allowed per team per match. Teams also competed at an Under-16 level in identically formed groups, but these were played as friendlies – no league table was maintained and no play-offs were contested. This format remained until the league's abandonment in 2012.


All teams played each other in the group twice and played 10 inter-group fixtures, producing 28 games a season. The four group winners entered the playoffs, which was a straight knockout format. Unlike the Premier Reserve League, the Premier Academy League was open to more than just the Premier League clubs.


  FA Premier Youth League (Under-18) References
1997–98 Arsenal U18s [2]
  FA Premier Academy League  
Under-19 Under-17
1998–99 West Ham United U19s Blackburn Rovers U17s [3][4]
1999–2000 West Ham United U19s Arsenal U17s [2][3]
2000–01 Nottingham Forest U19s Ipswich Town U17s [5][6]
2001–02 Arsenal U19s Newcastle United U17s [2][7]
2002–03 Blackburn Rovers U19s Leeds United U17s [8][9]
2003–04 Southampton U19s Aston Villa U17s [10][11]
  Premier Academy League (Under-18)  
2004–05 Blackburn Rovers U18s [12]
2005–06 Southampton U18s [13]
2006–07 Leicester City U18s [14]
2007–08 Aston Villa U18s [15]
2008–09 Arsenal U18s [16]
2009–10 Arsenal U18s [17]
2010–11 Everton U18s [18]
2011–12 Fulham U18s [19]
2012–13 Fulham U18s [19]
2013–14 Everton U18s [18]
2014-15 Middlesbrough U18s

Most successful clubs[edit]

Team U18
U19 (d)
U17 (d)
Arsenal 3 1 1
Blackburn Rovers 1 1 1
Aston Villa 1 1
Southampton 1 1
Everton 2
Fulham 2
West Ham United 2
Nottingham Forest 1
Leicester City 1
Ipswich Town 1
Newcastle United 1
Leeds United 1
Middlesbrough F.C 1

(d) - defunct

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Football League votes through plan to change youth set-up". BBC News. 
  2. ^ a b c "Arsenal Club Honours". Archived from the original on 22 October 2006. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  3. ^ a b "West Ham United Statistics". Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  4. ^ "FA Premier Academy League play-off final". This Is Lancashire. 19 May 1999. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  5. ^ "Players H - Paul Hart". Bridport Red. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  6. ^ "Academy Roll of Honour". Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  7. ^ "Newcastle United PLC Preliminary Results Summary". Newcastle United Official Website. 2002-10-08. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  8. ^ "Academy boys top of class". This Is Lancashire. 2003-05-14. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  9. ^ "Leeds United News - May 2003". Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  10. ^ "Academy Who's Who". Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  11. ^ "Everton U17s, 2003–04: Everton 1 - 1 Aston Villa". ToffeeWeb. Archived from the original on 9 September 2006. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  12. ^ "Under 18 Academy Team 2004/05". FONCY. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  13. ^ "Under-18 Academy Team 2005/06". FONCY. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  14. ^ "Under-18 Academy Team 2006/07". FONCY. Retrieved 7 November 2006. 
  15. ^ "Under-18 Academy Team 2007/08". Retrieved 4 May 2008. 
  16. ^ "Academy Final- Tottenham 0-1 Arsenal - Report". Arsenal Broadband Limited. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
  17. ^ "Academy Final- Arsenal 5-3 Nottm Forest - Report". Arsenal Broadband Limited. Retrieved 11 May 2010. 
  18. ^ a b "Academy Final- Fulham 1-2 Everton - Report". Everton Media. Retrieved 13 May 2011.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Everton" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  19. ^ a b "Academy Final- Fulham 2-0 Reading - Report". Retrieved 12 May 2012.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Fulham" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).

External links[edit]