Arsenal have agreed to enter the inaugural Youth Champions League, Young Guns has exclusively learnt. The tournament, designed to run alongside the flagship UEFA Championship League, is due to kick off in August.
UEFA have been working with officials from Ajax, Celtic, Liverpool, Chelsea, Manchester City and Sporting Lisbon to trial the idea, which is seen as an adventurous and exciting move for Under 18’s football. The final plans are yet to be confirmed, but Arsenal will make up one of the first groups, along with Ajax, Bayern Munich, Basel and an unconfirmed Scandinavian team.
In a similar way to its bigger brother, the Youth Champions League will open with a group stage, consisting of four teams per group. Qualification would then lead to progression to a knock out phase, scheduled for January 2012. The initial aims are for matches to be played in the club’s home stadiums, meaning Arsenal would be playing their fixtures at the Emirates. This is seen as a key way of helping clubs make up the costs of their European exploits.
The final details are still to be ironed out, but Young Guns expects Arsenal to make an announcement on the competition in the summer.
You can discuss Arsenal’s entry to the Youth Champions League and much more in a live web chat with editor Jamie Sanderson from 7pm UK time.