Leeds United Under-23s explained: How do the Professional Development League and Premier League Cup work?

Leeds United's Under-23s have been thrust into the limelight this season as Carlos Corberan's side sit top of their division and have tasted cup success - but how does the development system work?

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 3:26 pm
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 3:42 pm
Leeds United Under-23s league system explained.

Here's an explainer...

How does the Under-23s league system work?

In 2012 a new Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) system was introduced for Premier League and Football League academies in England.

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Each academy was given a category status from 1-4 based on the following criteria:

"Up to 10 different factors will be considered in the grading, including productivity rates; training facilities; and coaching, education and welfare provisions."

The EPPP was introduced in a bid to produce more homegrown players.

Following its arrival a new league system was put in place which is now formatted as Premier League 2 (PL2) and the Professional Development League (PDL).

Category 1 clubs were entered into the PL2 and split into two divisions with promotion and relegation between the two while category 2 academies were split into two north and south PDL divisions.

The Central League - a reserve league - also remained in place for several Football League teams with lower rated academies.

How does the Professional Development League work?

The Professional Development League is split into two divisions of 10 teams of category 2 rated academies - north and south.

Each team plays the opponents in their own division home and away. They then also play teams from the opposing section once - which could be either home or away - to make up a 28 game season.

A league winners trophy is handed out to the victors of each section before an end of season play-off is held to determine the overall winners with the top two teams from both divisions facing one another.

For example, the winner of the the PDL north would host the runner-up of the PDL south in a one off game. The victors would then face the winners of the opposing play-off semi-final to determine the overall champion.

Why are Leeds in the Professional Development League?

Leeds were handed Category 2 status in the EPPP system and therefore compete in the Professional Development League.

What is the Premier League Cup? How does it work?

Leeds also compete in the Premier League Cup which includes both category 1 and 2 academies along with a number of lower rated sides.

There is a qualifying stage, group stage and knockout stage of the tournament.

Category 3 and 4 sides play-off in a qualifying round to determine who enters the group stage alongside 1 and 2 rated academies.

A group stage in then drawn with four teams playing one another home and away before the top two progress into the knockout stages of the competition.

The final 16 sides are drawn at random in a one-off tie with extra time and penalties should they be required. The winners progress through each round until there is an overall champion.