Manchester Utd to launch womens team
The new side would compete in the second tier of the Women’s Super League (WSL2) and would be based at the Premier League outfit’s training centre at The Cliff in Salford.
United have said that, if successful, the move would serve as a pathway for players who graduate from the Girls’ Regional Talent Club.
The club scrapped their women’s team in 2005 and are currently one of the few top-tier English clubs that does not have representation in the female game. Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all have successful teams within the WSL system.
United have faced criticism for not having an adult women’s side, with England women’s national team coach Phil Neville saying in January that he would discuss the matter with his former club.
The Premier League outfit do have junior women’s teams, and work with local schools and community groups to develop players through their foundation. The club also has a partnership with the South Manchester Girls’ Football League.
It is anticipated that trials for the new United women’s team will be held in June.
In September, the FA announced plans to reform the WSL, which will see a fully professional top tier introduced from the 2018/19 season.
The current WSL consists of 20 clubs split equally into two tiers. The changes will involve expanding the top tier to include up to 14 teams with full-time professional players, while the WSL2 will become known as the Women’s Championship.
The FA has received 15 applications from teams to join either of the top two tiers from next season. Up to four new teams could join the top tier, with up to five permitted to join the Women’s Championship. A decision on allocating new teams is expected to be made in May.
Ed Woodward, vice chairman of Manchester United, said: “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.”