“Sixteen of the world’s best football clubs showcasing their stars of the future in one international knockout competition.”
Sanctioned by UEFA and the FA, The Nextgen Series will provide Europe’s best under-19 players with an unrivaled competitive experience, travelling internationally to compete in a variety of stadia both small and large.
Sixteen teams – including Barcelona, Inter Milan, Sporting Lisbon and Liverpool , Man City, Celtic and Spurs- will be kicking off in August 2011, playing home and away, with the top two teams from the four groups progressing to a knock out phase to decide which Club is crowned Nextgen Champion, in January, 2012.
The Nextgen Series has been established to assist with the often daunting transition from promising younger player to established first team performer.
From travelling abroad to play matches, dealing with the media, being challenged by new styles of play, The Nextgen Series will provide a cognitive learning environment for players to experience how best to cope with the pressures of top level football. Backroom staff including medical, conditioning as well as the coaches themselves – will benefit from the experience, whilst leading referees will oversee all 48 games, up to the finals mentoring up and coming officials in the process.
The competition was conceived by Mark Warburton, an ex- professional footballer and previous Academy Manager and Justin Andrews a leading media professional and TV producer with many years experience working with football clubs across the world.
Warburton gained a nationwide reputation for championing football coaching and education while at Watford FC, where he established the Harefield Academy and oversaw Watford becoming the first English Professional club to combine full time academic learning with football.
Travelling Europe talking to a variety of coaches, Warburton learnt that many clubs – from the smallest to the biggest – shared a common problem. Apart from the exceptional few who jump straight to the first team, many promising younger players graduating from academies were not then provided with enough consistent high quality football challenges which would suitably prepare them for the first team environment. As such, the transition often proves too great and many young players drift from the game, their evident potential, clearly un-realised.
Warburton believed a platform was needed to help these talented next generation players make that leap. Leaving Watford in early 2010, Warburton and Andrews raised the much needed finance from private investors and set up Cycad Sports Management.
Eighteen months on and contracts have now been agreed with sixteen clubs for the first year of the Nextgen Series with the first matches kicking off in August 2011.