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Saturday will see us play Brighton as the Premier League gets underway but Premier League 2 also kicks off this weekend for the under-23 teams of 28 Premier and Football League clubs.

A year ago, we joined Crystal Palace and Leeds as newcomers and there are two new clubs this year in Birmingham and Nottingham Forest who have both been granted Category 1 status. To keep the two divisions with equal numbers, only one team was relegated with two promoted and the two newcomers joining Division 2.

Leeds won Division 2 by some distance and have gone up with Palace who won the play-offs having finished the season nine points behind Stoke. Southampton have come down with Leicester getting a reprieve.

All of the teams kick off this weekend with Division 2 kicking things off tomorrow when Aston Villa host new boys Nottingham Forest at their Bodymoor Heath training ground. It’s Southampton v Norwich two days later while the remaining five games in our division will be played on Monday. That includes our game against West Brom which is at New Bucks Head, the home of AFC Telford, and that’s a venue I have nightmares about from 1986.

Division 1 will see two of the games played on Sunday afternoon with the other five all on Monday evening. Only one game in Division 1, that between Liverpool and Manchester City will be played at a training ground alongside two in Division 2.

As previously reported, we will be using three venues this season, namely the County Ground at Leyland (pictured), Tameside Stadium, home of Curzon Ashton and three games at the Turf.

Again this season, we’ll be reporting weekly on the league and hopefully I’ll be able to get to some of the games for the first time since the 2019/20 season was cancelled.

The first week’s fixtures are below.

THIS WEEK’S FIXTURES

Division 1

Sunday 15th August
Liverpool v Manchester City

Monday 16th August
Blackburn v Everton
Crystal Palace v Leeds
Derby v Brighton
Manchester United v Leicester
Tottenham v Chelsea
West Ham v Arsenal

Division 2

Friday 13th August
Aston Villa v Nottingham Forest

Sunday 15th August
Southampton v Norwich

Monday 16th August
Newcastle v Reading
Stoke v Birmingham
Sunderland v Fulham
West Brom v Burnley
Wolves v Middlesbrough

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