National Youth League (Australia)

For predecessor of this competition, see National Youth League (1984–2004).
National Youth League
Country  Australia
Confederation AFC
Founded 2008
Number of teams 10
Current champions Sydney FC Youth
Most championships Sydney FC Youth (3)
Website Home page
2016–17 National Youth League

The National Youth League (NYL) is an Australian national association football youth developmental and reserve league, run by Football Federation Australia. The National Youth League was established as a successor to the competition of the same name and commenced in August 2008. The league runs in conjunction with the A-League as a developmental/reserve league. It is contested by ten teams, nine of which compete in the A-League, the other, the Australian Institute of Sport. Seasons currently run from October to March.

The league is sponsored by Foxtel and thus officially known as the Foxtel National Youth League.


Originally, the National Youth League was an Australian national soccer league run in parallel to the National Soccer League (NSL) between 1984 and 2004.

The current league was announced by Football Federation Australia at the start of March 2008.[1][2] It was set up in conjunction with the A-League in order to continue to develop young Australian talent into the league as well as into the Australian national team and its affiliates such as the under 17, under 20 and under 23 teams.[3] The league's inaugural season was made up of seven teams, each linked to the corresponding Australian club in the A-League (excluding Wellington Phoenix) and had strong links to players training at the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS). The 2009–10 season saw the addition of Gold Coast United and a team from the Australian Institute of Sport Football Program. In the 2012–13 season, Gold Coast United were replaced by Western Sydney Wanderers. All players in the youth teams are between the ages of 16 and 21 as of the start of the calendar year for each new season, while four over-age players from each of the senior teams are also allowed to be selected.


Each club contracts a squad of 16 Youth Development Players. Players must be between the ages of 16 and 21 as of 1 January in the year the season commences. Four over-age players (including goalkeeper) are also allowed to be selected (except when playing the AIS where it is restricted to two), usually these coming from the senior team. Each youth player must receive a minimum of 30 minutes game time. Players under 21 signed for the first team filling foreign player spots are classed as over-age players.[1] These players can be any Australian player within the age group. A-League clubs must draw replacement players for their senior teams from the Youth League squad, except under certain circumstances.[1] Such would include severe injuries to over-age players where an injury replacement player is able to be signed.

Previous format

Up until and including the 2014–15 season the league had an 18-round format with every team playing all other teams Home and Away. In previous seasons an end-of-season finals series playoff tournament was played between the highest-placed teams from the regular season, culminating in the Grand Final game. The aim of a league is to provide a pathway for young players and state league players to play regular high-level football, and allow reserve players from senior A-League teams to remain match fit.

New format from 2015–16

From the 2015-16 season a new format was introduced. From 2016, all A-League clubs now have youth teams entered into their local conferences of the National Premier Leagues. By having NPL teams, there is now less reliance on the NYL to provide an avenue for youth players to their respective clubs. There was also pressure from A-League clubs to reduce travel budgets.[4] As such the season was shortened from 18 games per team to 8 games plus a Grand Final. The existing ten NYL teams were divided into two conferences of five teams: Conference A consisted of teams from WA, SA, Victoria and Queensland, while teams from ACT and NSW were in Conference B. All teams play all other teams in their conference on a home and away basis. After the home and away series a Grand Final is played between the top teams from each conference.[5]



Performance by clubs

Season Regular season Grand final
Premiers Points Runners-up Champions Score Runners-up
2008–09 Sydney FC Youth 41–35 Adelaide United Youth Sydney FC Youth 2–0 Adelaide United Youth
2009–10 Central Coast Mariners Youth 44–43 Perth Glory Youth Gold Coast United 2–1 Perth Glory Youth
2010–11 Gold Coast United 41–35 Central Coast Mariners Youth
2011–12 Central Coast Mariners Youth 36–32 Brisbane Roar Youth
2012–13 Melbourne Victory Youth 37–37 [a] Central Coast Mariners Youth
2013–14 Sydney FC Youth 41–37 Newcastle Jets Youth
2014–15 Melbourne City Youth 35–35 [b] Brisbane Roar Youth


[a] Melbourne Victory won with greater Goal Difference.
[b] Melbourne City won with greater Goals Scored.
Season Regular season Grand final
Conference A Winner Conference B Winner Champions Score Runners-up
2015–16 Adelaide United Youth Sydney FC Youth Sydney FC Youth 5–2 Adelaide United Youth

Player of the year

Year Player Club
2008–09 Australia Adam Sarota Brisbane Roar Youth
2009–10 Australia Panny Nikas Central Coast Mariners Youth
2010–11 Australia Steven Lustica Gold Coast United
2011–12 Australia Nicholas Fitzgerald Brisbane Roar Youth
2012–13 Australia Awer Mabil Adelaide United Youth
2014–15 Australia George Blackwood
Australia Liam Youlley
Sydney FC Youth
Western Sydney Wanderers Youth


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