U23s | Time For A Change


In a throwback to yesteryear some wise guy recently decided it would be a good idea to play U23 matches at the same time as first-team games.

It wasn’t a good idea.

Youth football crowds are beginning to well and truly die and, as a result, the competitive edge is being lost at that level.

What worked decades ago doesn’t work now. In the past, supporters would watch the first team at home one week, and cheer on the reserves the following Saturday.

But the increase in availability of first-team matches on live streams means that they will always take precedence over a chilly trip out for a 2pm kick-off.

The other week the youngsters played at home on a Friday night. It was the perfect way to begin the weekend for Stoke fans and were it to become a regular timeslot, many supporters would get in the habit of beginning their football filled weekend by watching the stars of tomorrow.

That weekend also saw Stoke’s U18 side play at home a few hours before the senior side hosted Sunderland at the bet365 Stadium.

Again, the fixture list has been horribly mismanaged and that particular match was one of just three occasions that the U18s are at home on the same day as the main side.

The interest in youth football is waning as a result and it’s a crying shame. There is plenty of entertainment on offer, but only when people can make it.

Someone has even decided to move this weekend’s U23 clash between Swansea and Stoke to Monday evening.

What else happens on Monday? Stoke v Swansea live on Sky. It’s an absolutely ludicrous decision that will see about 20 people turn up to the U23 match.

It’s time for a change to give these youngsters the crowds they deserve.


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