Coronavirus: Football Association still aiming to finish Youth Cup

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Liverpool’s victory in 2019 was their fourth in the FA Youth Cup

The Football Association still hopes to finish this season’s FA Youth Cup even though the Premier League U18 league was called off earlier this month.

The competition had reached the semi-final stage when the season was brought to a halt by the coronavirus pandemic.

Chelsea are due to play Manchester United with Blackburn drawn to face Manchester City in the last four.

The entire Academy Games programme, from under-9s to under-23s, was brought to an end for the season on 1 May.

It is not yet clear when the 2020-21 season will begin.

However, after confirming its intention to play the FA Cup final on 1 August, it is understood the FA is hoping to conclude its flagship youth competition at some point and is working with relevant partners to find a solution.

Logistically, playing this season’s competition beyond the end of this summer creates difficulties as decisions about whether to offer under-18 players professional contracts would normally have been taken.

“It’s something we talked about as academy managers and with the Premier League and EFL,” said Brighton academy manager John Morling.

“In an ideal world, we would have made all these decisions a month or two months after coming back. But the legalities in terms of players’ contracts meant that wasn’t possible.”

It remains to be seen whether the four clubs in the semi-finals offer short-term contracts to players they intend to release.

However, while the situation is uncertain for all clubs, Morling feels the financial impact of the shutdown, together with anticipated restrictions on buying overseas players for all clubs once Brexit regulations are established, offers an opportunity that could benefit young players.

“For youth development as a whole, opportunities will arise from this, no question,” he said.

“Brexit will have a bigger impact in terms of being able to sign foreign players but between the two, it will put a reliance on making sure academies produce players for first teams.”



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