Chief Executive confirms Premier League ‘B’ league is in the works

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For years many have been calling for the Premier League to have a more profound reserve or development league.

On Friday, PL Chief Executive Richard Scudamore confirmed that plans are in place to set up a Premier League ‘B’ division, that would see  an Under-23 league, plus four overage players, compete alongside the current PL setup.

That notion has a lot of people talking.

In England there are already three professional tiers below the PL, with the SkyBet Championship, League One and League Two hosting the countries other 72 professional teams. While below that in the Conference, most of the teams are full-time. But what Scudamore is suggesting would have no impact on the Championship and the promotion and relegation, but instead it would provide an extremely competitive level for young academy players to develop in and give them the chance to play against older players at a young age.

Only the PL teams that have been classed as category one in the Elite Player Performance Plan (EPPP) would be invited, as well as the five Championship teams and one League One side who are in that bracket, as these 22 sides currently compete in the Premier League’s U-21 division.

Talking about the plans, Scudamore had the following to say about upgrading the U-21 league to become the Premier League B.

The minute you call it ‘Under-21’ people think it is no use. It needs a better name and a better focus. All clubs recognize that. We need proper kick-off times, using main stadiums, anything to create an experience that is more competitive and more like the first team so it doesn’t come as such a shock. And those players in that group should be interchangeable with the first team.

The 22 teams this ‘B’ league would be made up of, are PL teams Arsenal, Aston Villa, Chelsea, Everton, Fulham, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Newcastle, Norwich, Southampton, Stoke, Sunderland, Tottenham, West Brom and West Ham. While Football League clubs Bolton, Blackburn, Leicester, Middlesbrough, Reading and Wolves would be included.

With many Spanish teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona fielding their B sides in the second tier of Spanish soccer, and the same happening in the Bundesliga, the PL is looking to follow the same model which has seen so many young players develop and prosper in Spain and Germany during recent years.

I think it’s a good idea, and the notion that these games will be broadcast on television and be played in home stadiums also suggests this will be a very strong ‘B’ league.

Will it ever take over the Championship and form two tiers of the PL? Who knows. But these plans are already in place and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it happen very soon.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

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Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET