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Abu Dhabi U19's 16-team Champions League


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Found this on twitter so i thought ill share


CELTIC have struck an exclusive deal to represent Scotland in a new elite European youth league alongside the likes of Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.

The new tournament will feature 16 of the continent's top clubs but while it will run annually and in parallel with the Champions League, it has not been sanctioned by UEFA.

Instead, the project is being bankrolled by an independent investment group backed by money from the Middle East and is due to kick off next season, with the first batch of matches pencilled in for autumn 2011 and the tournament concluding in Abu Dhabi early in 2012.

Clubs from all the major European leagues have been invited to join but Celtic have secured a written assurance that they will be the only participants from the SPL, locking Celtic and huns rivals Scotland's Shame out of the new venture.

R*ngers, however, are not the only big British club to be left out in the cold, as the involvement of City, who are under Middle Eastern ownership themselves, has also seen Manchester United excluded from the project.

Instead, England's four-team quota will comprise of City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur. Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid have been invited, while AC Milan, Ajax and Rosenborg are among the other clubs involved.

'We feel fortunate and privileged to have been invited to take part,' said Chris McCart, Celtic's head of youth development. 'The teams involved have a worldwide following, clubs like AC Milan and Bayern Munich, while Real Madrid and Barcelona are also close to signing up.

'The final details have yet to be ironed out but you are talking a minimum period of three years with the age group being Under-19 level. There's a really good mix of teams from across the continent from Scandinavia right down to Italy, Portugal and Spain and they have offered us exclusivity from Scotland.'

Commercial concerns will be the prime driver behind this new venture and the Middle East factor is crucial. With City now in the hands of Abu Dhabi's Sheikh Mansour and FIFA having awarded the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, this new youth project is the latest sign of a shift in football's powerbase.

The format of the tournament will see the 16 teams divided into four groups of four and play six matches on a home and away basis between August and December, just as they do in the Champions League.

The top two teams from each section will then qualify for the tournament's second phase which, in the inaugural year, will be contested in Abu Dhabi over a 10-day period.

It is not yet known how Scotland's Shame feel about being omitted from the project, while it's hard to imagine United boss Sir Alex Ferguson being best pleased at the 'noisy neighbours' of City stealing a march on a proposition which features so many of the European game's heavyweight clubs.

'The investment is coming from a European/Middle East Investment company and the tournament itself will have a Middle Eastern element,' explained McCart. 'The top two teams from each section will all fly to Abu Dhabi in the spring to take part in an eight-game tournament played over 10 days.

'That eight-team format will bring in sponsorship and television revenue in itself and, from Celtic's point of view, the issue of brand awareness is important.

'The expenses are all being paid by the organisers -- flights, accommodation, everything -- so it's a nobrainer for us. UEFA aren't involved but they have a knowledge of this and, as I understand it, there is some tie-in with FIFA.

'Television is going to be involved and there will be the prospect of playing matches at the proper stadiums. The commercial departments of each club have a heavy involvement in this, as there are implications beyond the football side of it.

'The people in the Middle East are desperate to get involved and there will be sponsorship and television revenue, especially when the tournament reaches Abu Dhabi.

'Our own Channel 67 and Liverpool TV both had access to the pilot and were delighted by the interest the game generated. Some clubs are keen to work this project into their season-ticket package, so it could generate decent crowds as well.'

Last month, a series of pilot matches were held to trial the new tournament, with Ajax hosting Manchester City, Tottenham playing Sporting Lisbon and Chelsea entertaining Bayern Munich on the day the club's former assistant manager Ray Wilkins found out he was to be relieved of his position.

Celtic also took part, with former Hoops and Scotland great Kenny Dalglish bringing Liverpool to Glasgow for a closed-door fixture on November 2. Dalglish's young side prepared for the match like the first team would for a big European tie, staying overnight in the city the night before playing at Celtic Park.

'The pilot game was an excellent experience for us and it was great to have Kenny Dalglish to bring the very best of Liverpool's young players with him,' added McCart, whose side triumphed 3-1 in the pilot match. 'Ninety per cent of our youngsters had never played at Celtic Park before, so it was great to give them that opportunity and I think they gained a lot from it.

'What we are trying to do is replicate the first-team experience for our young players. We want to recreate the conditions in which the first team operate in Europe.

'That will help the young players learn about what it takes to play at that level -- the travelling involved and the different demands an away European tie might make on them.

'That might involve operating a more defensive formation or simply trying not to get beaten, so it will be an education.

'From my own point of view it's just a great opportunity to show our youngsters what they should aspire to. They will be treated like firstteam players and the opportunity to play in a Champions League style tournament will ensure it is competitive



This would be good if out U19's enter.

Aswell as the FA youth cup will give our youngsters valuble experience and they will get a feel for what the Champions League is like at the top level, will be fantastic if we can get in this competition not just for our current youngsters but for a better chances of attracting others to our club in the future.


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It's an excellent business decision. By 2050 the middle east is expected to be the largest football market, by joining Chelsea would expose themselves to thousand of new customers/fans. But this is also seen as a negative, keeping the English game inherently English, etc etc. I like it still, it's a big middle finger to UEFA.

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Why limit it though? Doesn't make sense. It should be based on their league position like the Champions League is.

When you're starting off something as your own investment, you go for a plan which is sustainable and drastically cuts down on risks.

This format is just to show that it can work and hence they need teams which are big clubs and will always be close to the top if not at absolute top.

Once the format is recognised by UEFA I'm sure they'll expand it to the CL style although the best club doesn't necessarily have the best youth team, so how do they go about it remains to be seem. If they follow the Reserve or youth leagues, it'll end up throwing up teams which will take away the glam from it.

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