The Premier League’s chief executive Richard Scudamore has confirmed there are plans for a ‘B’ League to replace the current Under-21 league format. The ‘B’ League would become an Under-23 league with allowance for four overage players.
The league would be comprised of teams in category one of the Elite Player Performance Plan. This means that Manchester United would be involved alongside other clubs 15 from the Premier League [Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Brom and West Ham] and another 6 from the Football League [Bolton, Blackburn, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Reading and Wolves]. Other clubs who intend to achieve category one status soon will also be allowed to take part in the revamped league format.
The intention is that the games from the ‘B’ League will be played in the club’s main stadium as well as being broadcasted on television. The new structure would also have what Scudamore describes as ‘proper kick-off times’. The purpose behind it is to create a more competitive experience for players who should be interchangeable with first team players.
Scudamore believes that this change will assist players transition between Under-18s into first team squads by increasing the competition at that level and feels that the re-branding will change people’s perceptions of the league.
“The Under-21 League is technically very good but not where it needs to be in terms of meaningful competition for these youngsters,” he said.
“The minute you call it ‘Under-21’ people think it is no use. It needs a better name and a better focus. All clubs recognise that.”
Scudamore has insisted that the new league will have no impact on the Football League and its current structure.
This is yet another change at the 18-21 age level and if introduced for 2014/15, it would mean that the league structure would have been different in every season over the last four seasons – a point that has been picked up by youth football followers.
One of the biggest clues that the PL don't know what they're doing in the 18-21 age group is that they keep changing things every other year
— Chelsea Youth (@chelseayouth) February 14, 2014
Last RT – feels like the PL are completely making it up as they go along with the reserve/u21/whatever setup and getting absolutely nowhere
— Nick (@ManUnitedYouth) February 14, 2014
There is a lot of scepticism about whether the change in the league will have the impact Scudamore seems to think it will have. Games can be played in the clubs main stadia at the moment and over-age players are currently allowed. This will still be a closed league which lacks the competitive edge that the Premier and Football Leagues offer.