A feeder club in football is a club which is tasked to provide training and experience to young players. This training comes with an informal or formal agreement which involves allowing successful players to move on to a much bigger club or into a higher level. This bigger club is usually a major-level club that is considered as a parent team.
The system used in feeder clubs is not the same as that of a practice squad, which aims to develop players who are members of the parent team.
Feeder Club Facts
When it comes to feeder clubs, there are several facts that football enthusiasts should know. One of these is that many clubs come with age-restricted teams. Generally, these restrictions include young players who are under 18 years of age or those who are under 21 years old. There are also national teams who have their own feeder clubs like the under-21 football team of England.
In the United States, feeder clubs are more known as reserve teams. These teams are part of the MLS Reserve League and are managed by the United Soccer League. In fact, all soccer teams in this country are nominally required to have its own reserve team that should be a member of the United Soccer League. This membership can include the USL League One or USL Championship. The feeder clubs or reserve teams in the United States need to be affiliated with the United Soccer League, but their membership in the two leagues that occupy second and third-tier statuses are not strictly enforced.
Another fact is that is has been common to majority of football clubs to organize formal arrangements or deals with clubs that they are not connected to. This is because the parent club can serve several functions that are advantages to both parent and feeder clubs. Bigger clubs usually team up with minor clubs in their areas to form formal agreements. These arrangements would also provide smaller teams under minor clubs to send out young talents to these bigger clubs and at the same time, the bigger clubs can send their young players to these clubs on a loan basis.
Furthermore, partnerships and agreements between feeder and parent clubs do not only happen in the local scene but also between regions and nations. In fact, there are many clubs in Europe that send out players and teams to other parts of the globe. Examples of these include AFC Ajax and Ajax Cape Town of South Africa, Manchester United and Wollongong Wolves of the Australian team and FBK Kaunas of Lithuanian and Royal Antwerp of Belgium.