Premier League 2’s fixture schedule has been released and Manchester United’s u21s will open the season away to Crystal Palace.
The new season marks a big change in PL2 programming as the previous Division One and Two split has been scrapped for a one league Swiss model approach.
England’s top u21s sides will now compete in a singular 26 team league which consists of all of the Category One academies in the country.
Rather than facing off against every opponent home and away across the season, each club will play 20 matches based on a pot seeding that is calculated from historical results in the preceding three seasons.
At the end of the regular season, the top 16 clubs will move onto a single elimination play-offs using their league position as a seeding rank.
Additionally, clubs finishing within the top 12 will qualify for the following season’s Premier League International Cup, an invitational tournament involving clubs from across Europe.
The change in format was first mentioned by the Training Ground Guru who reported there were concerns among clubs about the effectiveness of the u21s schedule at preparing young players for senior football.
It was mentioned that “many of the more established clubs have been in favour of removing relegation for some time, believing that the desire to maintain league position has overshadowed development decisions regarding individual players.”
Although, with the removal of relegation it can be argued that with lower consequences for losing, matches will become less competitive and in fact prepare young players even less for the harsh do or die reality that senior football is for the majority of clubs outside the very top where most young players will eventually make their career.
Manchester United u21s full fixture list can be found below.
14: Crystal Palace (A) 13:00
23: Arsenal (H) 19:00
30: Blackburn Rovers (A) 12:00
27: Fulham (A) 19:00
4: Everton (H) 12:00
2: Tottenham (A) 13:00
4: Sunderland (A) 19:00
12: Chelsea (A) 19:00
27: Norwich (H) 19:00
9: Southampton (A) 19:00
17: Manchester City (H) 19:00
3: Derby County (H) 12:00
8: Middlesbrough (A) 19:00
18: West Brom (A) 19:00
7: Brighton (H) 12:00
14: Liverpool (H) 12:00
26: Nottingham Forest (A) 19:00