Football Friends Online – When 90 Mins Is Not EnoughThe rise of the NextGen - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough The rise of the NextGen - Football Friends Online - When 90 Mins Is Not Enough

The rise of the NextGen

Ask any fan and you will get the same response; yes, they love a player that has been bought through the youth team ranks. Arsenal supporters will forever share a close affiliation with Tony Adams, Sir Alex Ferguson can still call on the likes of Manchester United stalwarts Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes, while Ledley King will forever be revered around White Hart Lane as a Tottenham Hotspur legend.

The news that the NextGen Series was being brought into football provided fans with excitement. The tournament, dubbed the Champions League of youth team football, is the brainchild of sports TV producer Justin Andrews and Brentford sporting director Mark Warburton. The first edition of the competition came to fruition last year and caused major interest from all those across Europe.

The likes of Spurs, Liverpool, Ajax, Barcelona and eventual winners Inter Milan all took part in the inaugural tournament and, following the success last season, it was hardly surprising to see Juventus, Arsenal, Paris St. German and Athletic Bilbao all enter teams for this year’s edition. On top of that, Eurosport have also secured the rights to air the games for the season, while the official Twitter account has now mustered well over 30,000 followers.

It’s a massive rise to prominence for the tournament, especially with more and more emphasis being put on the promotion of youth in and around Europe. Supporters are now showing a greater interest in their respective clubs upcoming talent, highlighted by the 9000 fans at White Hart Lane for Spurs’ encounter with Barcelona on Thursday and the announcement on Friday that Manchester City are to begin work on their state-of-the-art academy and training ground, which will include a 7000 seater stadium for youth team matches.

Considering there are now 24 teams involved in the competition, a rise from the 16 involved last season, it goes the show the rise in interest of youth team football and perhaps more importantly, the NextGen Series. That number is expected to rise again next season, especially with the considerable success that the U-19 tournament has shown, coupled with the increased fan base from those interested in their respective clubs upcoming future stars.