Professional Development League

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The Professional Development League is a system of youth football leagues that are managed, organised and controlled by the Premier League or by the Football League. It was introduced by the Football Association via the Elite Player Performance Plan in 2012.[1]

The system was introduced in early 2012 and was active for the first time during the 2012–13 season. It is a successor to the Premier Reserve League, Premier Academy League and Football Combination. The Football League Youth Alliance makes up League 3 of the under 18 system. The system covers the under-18, under-21 and under-23 age groups.[1]

Previously, clubs participating in the Premier Reserve League (the highest level of reserve football in England) were removed from the competition if their first team in the Premier League were relegated and replaced with a promoted team. Under the Professional Development League system, Premier League reserves teams' league status is not directly linked to the first team's Premier League status. Instead, there are three different Professional Development Leagues at each age-group level and clubs in the top four tiers of the English football league system are placed in the system based on the assessment of their academy for the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP).

Under-23 level[edit]

Category 1[edit]

Premier League 2
PremierLeague2logo.png
League cup(s)Premier League Cup
EFL Trophy
International cup(s)Premier League International Cup
Current championsEverton (2nd title)
Most championshipsManchester United
(3 titles)
Current season

From 2012 to 2016, EPPP Category 1 academies' most senior youth league was an under-21 league known as the U21 Premier League, with four overage outfield players being permitted to play. From the 2016–17 season onwards, the competition is known as the Premier League 2 and the age limit increased from under-21 to under-23.[2]

The competition is split into two divisions, with promotion and relegation between each. Clubs in Premier League 2 can also compete in the Premier League Cup, the Premier League International Cup and the EFL Trophy, which is restricted to under-21 players.[3]

Champions[edit]

Season Champions
2012–13 Manchester United
2013–14 Chelsea
2014–15 Manchester United
2015–16 Manchester United
2016–17 Everton
2017–18 Arsenal
2018–19 Everton

Category 2[edit]

Professional Development League
ProfessionalDevelopmentLeague.png
Current championsBolton Wanderers (1st title)
Most championshipsCharlton Athletic
Crewe Alexandra
Swansea City
Huddersfield Town
Sheffield Wednesday
Bolton Wanderers
(1 title each)
Current season

The senior youth age range for EPPP Category 2 academies is the Professional Development League. The competition is split into two regional divisions, with the overall champion determined after an end of season play-off series.

Champions[edit]

Season
2012–13 Charlton Athletic
2013–14 Crewe Alexandra
2014–15 Swansea City
2015–16 Huddersfield Town
2016–17 Sheffield Wednesday
2017–18 Bolton Wanderers

Under-18 level[edit]

Category 1[edit]

U18 Premier League
U18PremierLeague.png
Domestic cup(s)FA Youth Cup
International cup(s)UEFA Youth League
Current championsChelsea (2nd title)
Most championshipsChelsea
(2 titles)
Current season

An under-18 league for EPPP Category 1 academies was formed alongside the formation of the Professional Development League in 2012. Known as the U18 Premier League, the competition is split into two regional divisions. The two winners of each division contest the final to determine the overall champions.

Champions[edit]

Season Champions
2012–13 Fulham
2013–14 Everton
2014–15 Middlesbrough
2015–16 Manchester City
2016–17 Chelsea
2017–18 Chelsea

Category 2[edit]

U18 Professional Development League
U18ProfessionalDevelopmentLeague.png
Domestic cup(s)FA Youth Cup
Current championsCharlton Athletic (3rd title)
Most championshipsCharlton Athletic
(3 titles)
Current season

The junior youth age range for EPPP Category 2 academies is the U18 Professional Development League. The competition is split into two regional divisions, with the overall champion determined after an end of season play-off series.

Champions[edit]

Season Champions
2012–13 Queens Park Rangers
2013–14 Huddersfield Town
2014–15 Charlton Athletic
2015–16 Charlton Athletic
2016–17 Sheffield United
2017–18 Charlton Athletic

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Youth development rules" (pdf). TheFa.com. Retrieved 8 August 2012.
  2. ^ "Premier League 2: Competition format explained". Premier League. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  3. ^ "'Premier League 2 gives optimum opportunities'". Premier League. Retrieved 31 July 2016.