United Youth

Manchester United Reserves & Academy News

Reserve League revamped for 2010/11

Posted by nickogs20 on June 23, 2010

As mooted back in April, details have reached us of extensive changes to the format of the Barclays Premier Reserve League for the coming season.

The structure of reserve football in England has long been a bone of contention for all involved, the lack of games, inadequate scheduling and stale, predictable nature of the north/south-oriented fixture list frustrating managers, players and fans alike and prompting a number of clubs to reconsider their participation in the Premier Reserve League. While an article on Chelsea’s official site from April suggested the governing body were already considering a revamp, the recent decision of Fulham, Stoke City and Birmingham City to join Tottenham Hotspur in withdrawing has left the PL with little option but to completely restructure the competition.

This means an end to the old system whereby those Premier League clubs opting to enter a team would be split as evenly and logically as possible into Northern and Southern sections, within which everyone would play each other home and away. Confirmation from the PL is expected in the coming weeks, but our understanding is that the restructure will see the remaining sixteen teams split into three groups, made up as below:

Group A: Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle United, Wigan Athletic.
Group B: Blackburn Rovers, Blackpool, Everton, Liverpool, Sunderland.
Group C: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, West Ham United, Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Each side will play the other teams in their group twice (home and away) and every other team once (either home or away), meaning a total of 19 games for those in Groups A and B and 20 games for Group C clubs. The Premier Reserve League Play-Off – previously contested between the Northern and Southern champions and won last season by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s United second string – will still take place, with the winners of Group A facing the winners of Group B for the right to meet the Group C winners for the national title.

At first glance, the proposed new format looks to be both an improvement and yet still something of a disappointment. Facing rare reserve opponents like Chelsea and Arsenal will certainly make for a more exciting and varied fixture list, with interest in those games likely to be greater than – with all due respect – yet another meeting with the likes of Bolton. A minimum of 19 games is also a slight increase on last year’s 18 (and the jump from 16 to 20 for those in Group C is a significant one). Ultimately however, the feeling remains that the reserve system will still fail to offer the regular competitive football that young players in the 18-21 bracket require to develop, with the long gaps between games that we’ve become accustomed to in recent years likely to remain commonplace.

That said, with the logistical problems posed by teams using lower league grounds as their reserve venues and the increasing number of teams – not just in the top flight – opting to go it alone with ‘development squads’ and tailored programmes of friendlies, tournaments and overseas tours, the Premier League’s hands were very much tied and the new format was arguably the best possible solution at this time. It is to be hoped that the new structure can work sufficiently well so as to persuade the four ‘rebel’ clubs (or any promoted sides who may replace them) to return to the fold, increasing the number of games in the process, but in the meantime look for United to continue to arrange friendlies (like those versus Clyde, Motherwell and Stabaek last season) to fill the gaps between their league and cup commitments.

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6 Responses to “Reserve League revamped for 2010/11”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Manchester United, Nick OGS20. Nick OGS20 said: Reserve League revamped for 2010/11: http://wp.me/pdxHo-S5 […]

  2. RFR said

    I hope the reveamp revitalizes the competition. Judging by comments Fergie’s has made, the reserves league seems to be slipping in standard and is mainly nowadays is most helpful in giving recovering seniors a run out. But what it should be is a competitive league where young players can hone their skills and face players of premier league quality. Hopefully more positive changes in future will eventually lead the reserves league to that standard.

  3. […] the exact setup has not been confirmed, the speculation is that there will be three groups, A-C. Each side will play the other teams in their group twice, […]

  4. […] artikel berättas också om att David Gill försöker visa styrka som medlem av FAs styrelse. ¤ United Youth berättar om ändringar i reservligasystemet. “ I will await what the manager does and then […]

  5. […] of a rare Premier Reserve League meeting later in the campaign, should the competition’s new format be […]

  6. […] As we exclusively revealed three weeks ago, the Premier League’s second string competition has had a significant facelift over the summer, with the old North/South split being replaced by a more nationwide format. Teams will still compete in regionalised groups, but as well as playing the other teams in their group twice, each club will also play every other side in the competition once, either home or away. […]

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