Manchester United to launch professional women’s team

Ed Woodward confirms club have made appllication to enter Women’s Super League 2

Manchester United have announced they will launch a women’s team. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

Manchester United have announced they will launch a women’s team. Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty

 

Manchester United are finally set to have a Women’s Super League team after the club applied to the Football Association to join.

United are rare among the established forces of the domestic men’s game in not having a women’s side. Chelsea, Arsenal, Manchester City and Liverpool all have teams with United until now resisting calls for it to join them. In January Phil Neville, the England women national team coach and former United defender, stated he would be “urging them” to do so.

Ed Woodward, United’s executive vice-chairman, said: “We are pleased to announce that the club intends to establish its first ever professional women’s team and has submitted an application to enter WSL2. The FA has provided excellent support through the process and we believe that launching a team in WSL2 would give many more of our graduates from the regional talent club the chance to establish themselves as first team players.

“The Manchester United women’s team must be built in the same image and with the same principles as the men’s first team and offer academy players a clear route to top-level football within the club.”

A statement from United added: “If successful, the move would provide a career pathway for players who graduate from the long-established and highly successful girls’ regional talent club which has seen some 15 of its graduates playing international football this season alone. The squad would be based at the club’s historic training centre at The Cliff [formerly the senior mens’ venue].”

The girls’ regional talent club is run via the United foundation. In January Neville said: “They [UNITED]have a fantastic community programme for female players and coaches. When they do set out their women’s team it will be one to challenge City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool. A club of the size of United should be the leaders, the pioneers. I am sure they are working to do that.”

United’s decision to form a professional team should provide a sizeable boost for the domestic women’s game. With the application expected to be a formality, United’s presence will make the second tier of particular interest when they start competing.

(Guardian service)

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