Romans Launch U21 Squad
Blue Square Premier outfit Bath City are to join forces with the city’s university to launch a development squad for players aged between 18-21. The new team will then play matches in midweek, against youth teams from clubs in the Football League Clubs. It is hoped that this arrangement will see the club benefit from young players gaining experience playing regular, semi-competitive matches, and therefore be more likely to integrate quickly into the first team. It will also be used in the rehabilitation of players returning from injury, and those not currently playing for the first team.
It is the first arrangement of it’s kind in British sport, and goes against the current theme of reserve teams and academies being scrapped. The deal will provide students with the opportunity to study at a top university whilst also playing regular football at a decent level, therefore potentially chasing two careers.
Of course, a similar thing was attempted a few years ago, when the university launched it’s own team, TeamBath. The idea was that they would be an option for players who had been released by Premier League and Football League clubs. Unfortunately, the team folded in 2009 as they did not meet the standards set out by the Conference.
Make no mistake, though, this new arrangement will be monitored closely up and down the country, and we could certainly see more clubs try similar links if it proves to be a success.