FanPost

U21 Premier League/NextGen/General direction of Youth Setup

I just looked at the NextGen Series website and came across links to entries on both Arsenal and Aston Villa's websites about a new competition starting this fall, the U21 Premier League. As part of the EPPP initiative that was passed by the Football League earlier this year, 23 clubs that have been given Category 1 status (including Tottenham - 17 from PL, 6 from Championship) will compete in a double-round robin in three groups of 8 teams. I'm linking to the Wikipedia page for how the groups broke down (Spurs have ManUtd, Newcastle, Villa, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland and Watford in their group).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2012%E2%80%9313_Professional_Development_League

In future years, there will be a U-18 League system added for Category 1 academies as well. Also, as of next year, UEFA will have a U-19 Champion's League, though this will only be for clubs whose senior sides are in the group stages of the Champion's League. With the new EPPP measures in England, and with youth sides becoming more prominent with the onset of Financial Fair Play (youth investment, as well as stadia, do not count in the equation to determine whether a club is financially viable and can gain a license to compete in Europe), what does this mean for the general direction of the youth set-up at Spurs?

About 3 weeks ago, Windy's Blog had an entry on Tim Sherwood's use of the loan system (http://windycoys.blogspot.com/2012/07/tim-sherwood-on-our-use-of-loan-system.html) and how to best bridge the gap between the Development Squad and the First Team. Tottenham had in the past few years pulled out of competing in the Reserves League. This new U21 league will nationalize the system, in line with EPPP, making sure the best players are at the best English clubs to compete against each other. In doing all of this, though, our the Youth squad have just been handed 14 more matches this fall, in addition to 6 NextGen and, for some, likely inclusion in the Europa League, and this does not even take into account FA Youth Cup, and other jaunts around the world for international youth tournaments. I'm positive certain things will be scaled back, but the important three questions are: 1) Do these changes improve our youth sector enough to bring them into the First Team more easily? 2) Will there be burnout too early on from emphasizing these youth competitions too much (i.e. if we see players play between 50-100 matches over the course of a year at ages 17, 18, 19, you could see players careers ending much earlier)? and 3) How does this play into our track record of having players go out on loan for playing minutes and to improve, if we keep most of our players around to compete in these youth tournaments?

In the immediacy, if the youth players are already committed to numerous matches at their level, how much depth at the senior level can we afford to lose to handle the League, Europa League and the Cups, if we can't just send out our U-21s for Europa League/Cup matches? Will we have to keep the likes of Bentley, Jenas, etc. to play Europa and Cup matches? Should we invest our money more in depth to keep us healthy and afloat at the risk of, say, a top-class goalkeeper? (I'm not even going to suggest foregoing a striker because that thought would be unbearable)

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