Northampton Lions Football Club can confirm its expansion to the Midlands Junior Premier League as an under-18 11-a-side team from the 2020/21 season.

Continuing our commitment to developing players within the Lions family, this move will help provide the best local talent with an extended opportunity to challenge themselves.

Having established our reputation for helping young players progress indoors, the Northampton Lions will continue to compete in the National Futsal League, alongside launching an 11-a-side squad, and will provide the opportunity for players to experience both football disciplines.

Through the MJPL, the squad will compete against a range of under-18 teams across the midlands, including youth set-ups at professional and semi-professional clubs. The programme will see players participate in regular games, training, mentoring, and strength and conditioning sessions, as well as contact time with players based overseas – all tailored to broadening awareness and providing the best platform to support players in reaching their potential.

Head coach Howard Willmott said: “We have a unique model. We are one of a small number of clubs in England that are equally futsal and football orientated, so our objectives are different to other clubs.

“We are establishing quality pathways for the players that continually test them as they move towards adult football and we are pleased that we will be joining the Midlands Junior Premier League this season.

“There are some good non-league clubs in the league and the environment is right for us because it’s a well-run competition. There’s a level of discipline that’s required for a club to succeed in that league, and we will be exposed to a different level of examination each week, so the players have to adapt, and that will benefit them in many ways.”

Chairman Chris Rivett said: “This is the natural next step for us in expanding the club. The coaching team, led by Howard, is constantly challenging the players to become better as a group, which brings both individual and collective development. With more contact time with the players now possible through this expansion, and more challenges that we can present, we anticipate being able to make more substantial progress.

“With our international network growing alongside this, our aspirations to become a better, smarter club benefit, and that will bring more opportunities in the future.”