The National Youth League 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 National Soccer Youth League and commenced in August 2008. The league runs in conjunction with the A-League as a developmental/reserve league. It is currently 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 currently sponsored by Foxtel and thus officially known as the Foxtel National Youth League.
The league was announced by Football Federation Australia at the start of March 2008, and the inaugural league started in August 2008 alongside the A-League 2008–09 season,12 although in a July interview with Ben Buckley, he stated the competition would start in September, after the finish of the various state leagues.3
The season currently has an 18 round format that runs in parallel with the A-League. 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.
Each club contracts a squad of about 14 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, 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.