Chelsea FC operates a football academy for age groups Under-9 through to Under-23.
In 2016, the Academy was awarded Category One status following an independent audit by the Premier League.
The audit process forms part of the League’s monitoring of the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP), created in 2012 and designed to increase the quantity and quality of homegrown English players. The categorisation system permits the best-ranked academies more contact time with young players and ensures their development teams participate in the elite competitions at youth level. Up to 10 different factors are considered in the grading including productivity rates, training facilities, coaching, welfare and education provisions.
The Academy teams compete in an extensive games programme in the Professional Development Phase (Under-17+). These are split between the Under-18s, Under-19s and development squad, with the latter two generally formed of the same group of players and coaching staff.
Our development squad’s league commitments are in Premier League 2, which succeeded the Under-21 Premier League in the summer of 2016. This saw the age parameters increased to Under-23 and the introduction of two tiers, with promotion and relegation between the two, while our oldest academy age group was rebranded from ‘the Under-21s’ to ‘the development squad.’ Home games are generally played at Aldershot Town or Stamford Bridge.
This age group also compete in the Leasing.com Trophy, a senior Football League competition which features the 48 club sides from League One and League Two. From the summer of 2016, 16 Category One development teams were invited to participate in the competition, initially on a trial basis.
The 64 competing teams are split into 16 regionalised groups of four and each team plays each other once, with development teams playing all games away from home. In the event of a group game ending in a draw, a penalty shoot-out is held whereby the winners earn an additional group point. The top two from each group advance to the last-32 knockout round. The final is held at Wembley Stadium.
Development teams are required to field a minimum of six under-21 players in their starting team and can only play two players over the age of 21 who have played more than 40 times for the first team, while Football League clubs must field a certain number of first team players.
In 2020 our development squad were crowned Premier League 2 champions for the first time, after it decieded that the league would be decided on a points-per-game basis. Meaning Chelsea, who remained unbeaten throughout all 18 games played, would take the title for the 2019/20 season.
The Under-19s take part in the UEFA Youth League, a European competition that mirrors the UEFA Champions League group stage. Home games are generally played at Cobham or Aldershot Town . Teams face each other twice, both at home and away, with the group winners advancing to the last-16 and the runners-up to the play-off round.
Running parallel to the group stage is the domestic champions path, where the Under-18 champions of the 32 best-ranked UEFA associations compete in two knockout rounds of home-and-away ties.
The eight teams who progress are drawn against the group stage runners-up in the play-off round. The play-off winners join the group winners in the last-16, where single-leg ties are played up to the final. Both the semi-finals and final are held over a four-day weekend in Nyon at the, home to UEFA headquarters.
Our under-19s have twice won the UEFA Youth League with consecutive titles in 2014/15 and 2015/16, meaning the young Blues are one of the most successful teams in competition history.
The FA Youth Cup has been English football’s premier cup competition at youth level for over 60 years and attracts almost 500 entrants from throughout the English football pyramid. Initially, there are a number of qualifying rounds before the First Round sees League One and League Two clubs join for the first time. Premier League and Championship clubs enter from the Third Round onwards.
The competition follows a knockout format, with extra-time played if the game is level after 90 minutes. Only those players in the Under-16, Under-17 or Under-18 age groups in the relevant season are eligible to participate. The semi-final and final are played over two legs; if aggregate scores are level at the end of the second leg, extra-time and penalties may decide the winners. There is no away goals rule in the competition. Chelsea home games are generally played at Aldershot Town in the early rounds and Stamford Bridge later in the competition.
The Under-18s, also colloquially referred to as the Youth Team, have participated in the Youth Cup every season since 1952 and have lifted the trophy on nine occasions. Only Manchester United (10) have won the trophy more.
For the bulk of the season, the Under-18s compete in the Under-18 Premier League, which splits the 24 Category One academies regionally into northern and southern leagues. Home games are played at Cobham. Teams play each other twice, both at home and away, before the regional winners compete in an end-of-season play-off to determine the national champion.
The Under-18 Premier League Cup was launched in 2017 and sees all 24 Category One teams compete, initially in a group stage format before knockout matches are played from the quarter-final onwards. Groups are comprised of two northern and two southern teams, enabling sides to face opponents outside of their regional league programme.
Teams play each other once in the group stage, either at home or away, before the group winners plus the two best runners-up advance to the quarter-finals. The knockout rounds are single-leg matches, with the final drawn to be played at one of the competing team’s home venues.
Our development squad play home games at:
Kingsmeadow, Kingston Rd, Kingston upon Thames KT1 3PB
Getting there by road:
From outside London - M25 Junction 10, take the A3 northbound into London. At the exit for New Malden/Worcester Park, turn off and take the left turn into Malden Road (A2043) towards Kingston. Follow this to the next roundabout. Take the first exit into Kingston Road (A2043 still) and Kingsmeadow is one mile on the left.
From Central London - take the A3 out of London, exiting at New Malden/Worcester Park. Cross over the A3, and take the Malden Road (A2043) towards Kingston. Follow this to the next roundabout. Take the first exit into Kingston Road (A2043 still) and Kingsmeadow is one mile on the left.
There is limited parking available at the ground which is free.
The nearest railway station to the ground is Norbiton, which is about a 15-minute walk away. The station is served by trains from London Waterloo via Clapham Junction and Wimbledon.
Leave the station via the back exit (westbound platform), and take the first left onto Norbiton Avenue. At the end of the avenue, turn right on to Gloucester Road, and at the end of Gloucester Road turn left into Cambridge Road. The main entrance to Kingsmeadow is 400 yards down on the right.