England opt out of Victory Shield Under-16 competition

England against Northern Ireland
The Victory Shield was between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

The Football Association has announced England will no longer compete in the Victory Shield, the long-running under-16 event between the home nations.

England have won the tournament a record 35 times since World War II but the FA wants their young players to face opposition from further afield.

An FA statement said: "It's important to prioritise exposing them to European and world opposition."

Wales won the Victory Shield last term and Scotland triumphed the year before.

It has been contested annually since 1946-47, with England first winning it in 1949-50.

The FA said the decision "ensures consistency with a key element of the England DNA."

The statement added: "Although we recognise the historic interest in these matches, we are intent on maximising the football learning of our young players, while forming the programme of fixtures for the year around the crucial academic commitments our players face at this age group."

A Scottish FA spokesperson said: "We note the decision of the FA to withdraw the England team from the Sky Sports Victory Shield.

"We are in discussions with the Schools' Association Football International Board and the other participating associations about our next steps and will provide an update in due course."

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