Youngsters start at home to ArsenalFixtures for our under-21s upcoming campaign in the Premier League Division 2 have been revealed.
The Royals will compete in the second tier after they narrowly finished in the bottom half of the full division in 2013/14, which includes several Premier League sides including Arsenal, Aston Villa and Newcastle United.
Madejski Stadium is set to host three of our youngsters' fixtures, including a clash with Wolverhampton on Friday 12th December, Stoke City on Tuesday 24th February, and Villa on Friday 1st May - all 7pm kick offs.
Fixtures in full - please note all games at Hogwood Park will be behind closed doors
Friday 15th August - Arsenal - (H) 7pm at Basingstoke Town
Monday 25th August - Newcastle - (A) 1pm at Northumberland FA
Friday 12th September - Stoke City - (A) 7pm at Macclesfield Town
Monday 22nd September - Bolton - (H) 7pm at Basingstoke Town
Monday 29th September - Blackburn - (A) 7pm at Ewood Park
Friday 17th October - Middlesbrough - (H) 1pm at Hogwood Park
Monday 27th October - Brighton - (A) 7pm at Sussex FA Headquarters
Wednesday 5th November - Derby - (H) 7pm at Basingstoke Town
Monday 1st December - Aston Villa - (A) 7pm at Pirelli Stadium
Friday 12th December - Wolves - (H) 7pm at Madejski Stadium
Monday 5th January - West Brom - (A) 7pm at Ricoh Arena
Monday 12th January - Arsenal - (A) 7pm at Boreham Wood
Friday 23rd January - Newcastle - (H) 1pm at Hogwood Park
Monday 9th February - Bolton - (A) 7pm at Lancashire FA
Tuesday 24th February - Stoke City - (H) 7pm at Madejski Stadium
Friday 6th March - Blackburn - (H) 7pm at Basingstoke Town
Friday 13th March - Middlesbrough - (A) 1pm at Hartlepool United
Friday 3rd April - Brighton - (H) 1pm at Hogwood Park
Monday 20th April - Derby - (A) 7pm at TBC
Friday 1st May - Aston Villa - (H) 7pm Madejski Stadium
Monday 11th May - Wolves - (A) 7pm at AFC Telford
Friday 15th May - West Brom - (H) 7pm at Madejski Stadium
The Barclays Under-21 Premier League replaced the Premier Reserve League at the start of the 2012/13 season with the aim to enhance youth development and help transition players between the Academy and First Team.
Whilst our U21s will be looking to retain their Premier League Cup title, they will aim to gain promotion from the Premier League Division Two to the top flight by finishing first or second.
The league has been set out with the following criteria:
- In total, 24 clubs compete in the Barclays U21 Premier League, with each of the clubs having applied for ‘Category One’ status in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP). There are 15 clubs from the Barclays Premier League and nine clubs from the Sky Bet Championship.
- From the 2014/15 campaign, the 24 clubs will be split into two divisions.
- The teams who finished 1st - 12th in the 2013/14 season will compete in Division 1 of the Barclays U21 Premier League, while 13th - 22nd will join new Category One clubs Brighton & Hove Albion and Derby County in Division 2.
- Clubs will play each club in their division twice, home and away.
- There will be no play-offs, unlike the previous two seasons, and 1st place will be crowned champions.
- The teams who finish 11th and 12th in Division 1 will be relegated, while the top two teams in Division 2 will be promoted.
- There is no relegation from Division 2.
Other rules include:
- Clubs are only allowed to field three outfield players over the age of 21, plus the goalkeeper is also permitted to be over 21.
- Each club must host at least three league matches at their main stadium during the course of the season, which helps to enhance the matchday experience for the young players and fans. In addition, the overall final will also be played in the main stadium of the home club.
- Member clubs’ training grounds or Academy venues will be permitted for the staging of up to three home matches over the course of the league season.