Man Utd sign up for Hackett's Youdan Trophy

MANCHESTER UNITED have signed up to make their debut at the Youdan Trophy – the youth tournament set up by former ref Keith Hackett, who promises it will become “the most prestigious of its kind in Europe”.

United line up in the 20-team Under-14 tournament, which runs at Bramall Lane in Sheffield in the week starting July 31st, alongside Celtic, Crystal Palace and Birmingham. This is the third year of the Youdan Trophy, a tournament organised by You Are The Ref that was the brainchild of Sheffield-born Hackett.

It is named after Thomas Youdan, a 19th Century Sheffield theatre owner who sponsored and provided the trophy for a youth tournament held at Bramall Lane in 1867. It was won by local side Hallam in front of a crowd of 3,000 people.

Seattle Sounders won the Under-16 tournament last year, beating Basel in the final, with Charlton taking the Under-14 trophy after seeing off Sheffield Wednesday.

More than 800 players took part, with Celtic wonderkid Kader Dembele taking the player of the tournament award for the second year in a row.

Hackett, the former international referee and general manager of the Professional Game Match Officials Board, certainly has high ambitions for the tournament.

“The aim of our tournament is to showcase the stars of the future in the home of football," he said.

"The success of these players is testament to the hard work we have put in to make the Youdan Trophy one of the fastest growing brands in football. The Trophy will now grow into the most prestigious of its kind in Europe.”

The tournament has not been without controversy though.

Last year Hallam FC mounted a challenge over the tournament’s use of Youdan’s name, but this was dismissed last Novemeber. The tournament is backed by Sheffield City Council and the city’s two universities, Sheffield and Hallam.

Nicky Butt took charge of United’s academy last February, taking over from Warren Joyce, and has overseen a big change in the way in which the club's youngsters are recruited and coached.

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