A farm team (English to farm = cultivate, breed) is a team in various sports whose main task is the training of young players. The farm team gives them the opportunity to gain experience in a lower division in order to be used in a higher division at a later point in time, when the player has developed sufficiently. Farm teams also serve to train established players and, for example, to get them back to playing after an injury.
There are farm teams primarily in North America , but similar structures also exist in Europe . Farm teams are now established in various team sports such as ice hockey , basketball and American football . In football , there is a similar system.
The National Football League had its own farm league, the NFL Europe, until 2007 . NFL Europe mainly consisted of teams in German-speaking countries such as Rhein Fire , Berlin Thunder or Frankfurt Galaxy , which, however, were completely owned by the NFL.
The farm teams of the Major League Baseball (MLB) teams play in the minor league baseball leagues , which are divided into different classes and graded according to the level of performance of the players. These are (from the best young players down):
- AAA (Triple-A)
- AA (Double-A)
- A (single-A)
- Short season A
- Advanced Rookie League
- Rookie League
The farm teams in North America are mostly formally independent teams that play in the minor leagues such as the American Hockey League . The teams have signed a contract with a higher-class team, in the case of the AHL from the National Hockey League , that young players can be “assigned” and trained, but older players can also gain experience there. Although the players are in the roster of the farm team, their rights belong to the higher-class cooperation partner, who can remove their players from the farm team at any time. Some of the AHL teams have their own farm teams, most of which are based in the ECHL and some of them cooperate directly with an NHL team themselves.
In Germany, teams from the DEL or DEL2 often enter into cooperation with lower-class teams. However, these collaborations are mostly limited to the sporting area, so there is mainly an exchange of players with the help of so-called sponsorship licenses .
With the change in the German league system since the introduction of the DEL in 1994, closer cooperations similar to the North American farm teams developed. The best-known example is the second division Heilbronner Falken , which has entered into a cooperation with the DEL team Adler Mannheim . In addition to the exchange of young and promotional licensed players, there is cooperation between the two teams in the area of training, the shared use of the North American scouting system by the second division and the originally planned creation of a corporate identity based on the North American model, with similar jersey colors and logos.
In European football there is a structure similar to the North American farm team system. The professional teams maintain an amateur team that functions in a similar way to farm teams that usually belong to the respective club. Young players can gain experience in the second teams, players recovered from injuries gain match practice. The amateur teams either take part in the regular game of the amateur classes or play in their own leagues , as in the English Premier Reserve League or the Italian Campionato Primavera . The US Major League Soccer , on the other hand, has been running farm teams for several years.
In 2006 the English club Arsenal FC were suspected of secretly taking over the Belgian club SK Beveren and building a farm team with young talent there. In fact, Arsenal London had provided the financially troubled SK Beveren with a cash injection, but it did not result in an illegal takeover.
FC Liefering in the second highest Austrian soccer league is a farm team of FC Red Bull Salzburg, which in turn has already been referred to as the farm team of the German soccer club RB Leipzig.
In Formula 1, there are both farm teams within the series (for example Scuderia Toro Rosso for Red Bull Racing ) and in various other series. Many Formula 1 teams are represented with their own teams in the GP2 series (or their predecessors, Formula 2 and Formula 3000 ). Many current Formula 1 drivers (including Nico Rosberg , Lewis Hamilton , Nico Hülkenberg , Romain Grosjean ) drove in the GP2 series before their Formula 1 careers.
The highest class currently in the North American NASCAR series is the Sprint Cup . Most of the teams involved there are also represented in at least two of the other NASCAR series. In addition to various US series, there is one Canadian ( NASCAR Canadian Tire Series ) and two Mexican series ( NASCAR Corona Series and NASCAR Mexico T4 Series ).
For example, the ProTeam “Rabobank” included the UCI Continental Team “ Rabobank Continental ”, which served as the junior team. The same applies to the ProTeams "Bouygues Télécom" , which the national team "Vendée U" runs, "Katjuscha" , which the " Katjuscha Continental Team " and " Itera-Katjuscha " use as farm teams.