Players from the new Academy Development League (c) Presseye


The NI Football League is delighted to launch the new Premiership Academy League starting this season!

The Academy League will see the introduction of two new development leagues for Under 16 and Under 18 teams to improve the pathway to the existing Under 20 Premiership Development League ahead of the 2018/2019 season.

The Academy League will kick-off on Sunday 2 September with a special ‘Development Day’ with the league schedule starting for the Under 16 and Under 18 teams the following weekend. The Under 20 league will continue to mirror the fixtures of the senior Danske Bank Premiership schedule.

NI Football League Development Manager, Steven Mills said; “The Danske Bank Premiership is increasingly becoming a hotbed of local young talent which is evident following the progress of players like Gavin White, Bobby Burns and Paul Smyth alongside the growing number of Premiership players regularly featuring in Northern Ireland’s Under 21 international squad.

“The Academy League aims to enhance this further by improving the pathway for talented young players and give them the best opportunity to develop into senior players within the NI Football League.”

Over the next few years the Academy League aims to create an environment that encourages youth development in Premiership clubs through improved support and meaningful partnerships.

Some of the aspects of this evolution of youth football in Northern Ireland include;

- Development days and workshops to support player & coach education

- A scholarship programme that combines formal education and additional training

- Ability for players to play up and down age bands

- The development of recognised Academy criteria in a Northern Ireland context

- Better partnership with key stakeholders in youth football

Sponsorship and partnership opportunities are still available for interested partners who want be part of youth football pathway, by contacting Steven Mills (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

1. Membership of the Under 18 & 16 ADL for the 2018/19 season (Year 1) will consist of the 12 teams who competed in the 2017/18 Danske Bank Premiership, as agreed by the NIFL Premiership Management Committee
2. Membership after Year 1 will take cognisance of Promotion & Relegation from the Danske Bank Premiership, but all clubs will have to meet enhanced criteria
3. After Year 1 membership of the ADL will not exceed 14 clubs  

Match Gallery