NATIONAL CUP UNVEILED FOR UNDER-21S
The Premier League has released details of the inaugural Barclays Premier League Under-21 Cup, for which a Chelsea team will compete this season.
The FA Youth Cup, which began in 1953, has long been an opportunity for Under-18 teams to take part in a domestic knockout competition and that experience will now be available too for the next development stage.
It follows on from the Barclays Under-21 Premier League which was introduced in place of previous reserve team league competitions last season, and has been reconfigured for this campaign.
The new Under-21 Cup competition is for academies of all categories. The one-off fixtures will be played on a regional basis - with teams split into north and south sections - up until the Round of 16, from which point the draw becomes national. Teams from different category academies can be drawn against each other.
The final will be played over two legs at the main stadia of both teams.
As a category one academy, Chelsea will enter the competition at the Round of 32 stage, along with the likes of Arsenal, West Ham United, Everton and Manchester City.
The draw for the qualifying rounds, which precede the Round of 32, have been published on the Premier League website.
Round of 32 matches will be played in the week beginning 18 November. The draw for the Round of 32 will be made upon completion of the Qualifying Round 1 matches.
The Chelsea Under-21 team are next action this Friday, with a home league match against Norwich City.
The venue is Aldershot Town's Electrical Services Stadium and entry is free for Chelsea and Aldershot season ticket holders on production of those tickets. All other admission is £3 adults and £1 concessions at the turnstiles on the night.
There have been plenty of goals in the last two Under-21 games, with Dermot Drummy's side winning 4-1 away at Southampton and beating Leicester at home 5-1.