English Premier League football club Manchester United has submitted an application to the Football Association (FA) to form a professional women’s team.
The team would compete in the second tier of the Women’s Super League. United said that, if successful, the move would serve as a pathway for players who graduate from the Girls’ Regional Talent Club. The team would be based at United’s training centre at The Cliff in Salford.
United scrapped its women’s team in 2005 and it is one of the few top-tier clubs that does not currently have representation in the female game. The likes of Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool all currently have teams playing in the WSL.
United does have junior women’s teams and works with local schools and community groups to develop players through its foundation. The club also holds a partnership with the South Manchester Girls’ Football League.
Manchester United vice-chairman Ed Woodward 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.”
The FA in September announced reform plans for the WSL, with a fully professional top tier to be introduced from the 2018-19 season.
The current WSL consists of 20 clubs split equally into two tiers. The changes will see the current WSL 1 expanded to a top tier of up to 14 teams with full-time professional players. 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.