The international youth tournament NextGen Series has been cancelled this season because of a lack of funding, with the current champions Aston Villa describing the development as "bitterly disappointing".

The competition, which is made up of 24 elite club academies across 12 European countries, is aimed at developing and showcasing young talent as the continent's best under-20 players compete in a knockout tournament.

Barcelona, Juventus, Internazionale and Arsenal all took part in last season's series but it has been postponed due to a lack of "definite funding".

A number of clubs revealed their disappointment at the news and the Aston Villa academy director, Bryan Jones, said the lack of funding and sponsorship for the series could impact on the development of youngsters across Europe.

"We're bitterly disappointed by this and we feel let down," said Jones. "The organisers have worked hard to secure a sponsor for the tournament but the deadline has passed without success and therefore we're left with this highly unsatisfactory situation.

"The competition is one of the greatest development tools for young professional players in this country, providing as it does elite competition against some of the best clubs around Europe, and it will be lost to us this season. It's shameful and it's hugely disappointing."

A statement from the organisers read: "It is with regret that the NextGen Series has today announced it will be suspending the tournament for one season due to a lack of definite funding.

"Over the past two seasons NextGen has played a major part in the development of European football and has enjoyed great success with many NextGen players including Celtic's Tony Watt, Villa's Gary Gardner and Ajax's Viktor Fischer progressing to their first teams."

The co-founders of the NextGen Series, Mark Warburton and Justin Andrews, added: "The level of support we have received from the football industry, media and fans has been magnificent and for that we are truly grateful.

"It is hugely disappointing that an event of this nature, designed to assist with the development of Europe's elite players, should have to take such action but we hope to be back next season."

Villa beat Chelsea 2-0 in last season's final, played in Italy and including promising players such as Nathan Ake who has progressed to the Chelsea first-team.