Premier League 2 to switch to Swiss-style format from next season

Premier League 2 currently has a two-tier format 

Premier League 2 currently has a two-tier format 

PREMIER LEAGUE clubs have voted to bring in a one-tier Swiss-style format for the Under-21s from the start of next season.

As we revealed last month, there has been a season-long review of Premier League 2 because of concerns about the effectiveness of the games programme in preparing Academy players for the senior game. Currently, Category One clubs are placed in Premier League 2 and placed in two divisions.


  • 1 x single group containing 25 teams
  • Teams seeded based on multi-year performance
  • Fixtures drawn from 5 pots based on seedings
  • A 21-game week scenario would involve teams playing each club in their own pot plus 4/5 teams in all other pots, either home or away (would equate to 20 regular season games)
  • Results generate a combined table that determines play-off positions
  • UEFA Champions League will introduce this format in 2024/25

The change was voted through by shareholders at the Premier League Annual General Meeting last week.

A number of proposals were considered before clubs agreed to introduce the ‘Swiss model’, which will see all 25 Category One Academies field an U21 team in the same league next season, with promotion and relegation between the current two-tier system scrapped.

The ‘Swiss model’ is based on the tournament used in chess and will be used in the UEFA Champions League from 2024/25.

In PL2, the 25 teams will be seeded into five pots based on their historical performance in the competition over the preceding three years, meaning each team will play 20 matches in the regular season (the same number as in PL2 Division Two in 2022/23 but six fewer than in PL2 Division One).

A 21-game week scenario will see teams playing each club in their own pot plus four or five teams in all other pots, either home or away. After this, the combined table will determine play-off positions, with the top 16 teams qualifying for the knockout format.

Many of the more established clubs have been in favour of removing relegation for some time, believing that the desire to maintain league position has overshadowed development decisions regarding individual players.

In recent years, some clubs have opted to retain players for longer than they otherwise might have in order to boost their PL2 position, or they have recruited specifically for the U21 age group.

However, some club officials remain concerned that the new one-tier format will reduce the amount of jeopardy or meaningful competition in the latter stages of the season.

The changes mark another shift back to the one-tier U21 Premier League format that was last seen in the 2013/14 season. A year ago, PL2 reverted from an U23 to U21 league, with clubs permitted to field five ‘over-aged’ players.

Fixtures for the 2023/24 campaign are due to be released in July.

Youth Hawk have provided the biggest database on English youth football since January 2014. They produce comprehensive coverage of the English Premier League 2, Under-18 Premier League, Professional Development League 2 and Under-18 League 2.

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