Sunderland AFC has announced that the Sunderland ladies team is to be formally integrated into the club’s structure.
Following the announcement of the formation of a new FA Women’s Super League (WSL), which is set to launch in the spring of 2014, SAFC worked hand in hand with members of the women’s club in order to prepare a comprehensive bid to secure a place within the new league.
The bid assessed the ladies clubs’ competence in a number of key areas, including financial and business management, commercial sustainability and marketing, facilities and players, support staff and youth development.
The bid proved to be successful, with the club being awarded Women’s Super League Two status, along with teams such as Aston Villa Ladies, Doncaster Rovers Belles Ladies and Millwall Lionesses.
The team, known previously as Sunderland Women’s FC, will now be re-launched as Sunderland AFC Ladies Limited and SAFC will be its parent company.
The new professional league structure means that a full-time role of ‘General Manager’ will be created, based within SAFC, allowing the football club to provide tangible support and expertise to its women’s team.
SAFC has also undertaken work to further improve the facilities at the Eppleton Colliery Welfare Ground, in line with WSL regulations and the ground will continue to host the women’s games when the new season kicks off in March 2014.
The club will also continue to provide kit and training wear, along with transport to games for the women’s side.
Sunderland AFC Chief Executive, Margaret Byrne, said: “The women’s team has always been an important part of our football family and the creation of the new Super League offered us a great opportunity to bring them fully under our wing.
“By sharing our know-how and resources we have been able secure league status, which was vital to the future of the women’s team. We are now looking forward to seeing the team go from strength to strength with promotion to WSL 1 being our primary aim.”
Maurice Alderson, SAFC Ladies Director, said: “This is an important point in the evolution of SAFC Ladies. It has been hard work in getting to this stage and we are all grateful for the valuable contribution of Sunderland AFC.
“The prospect of establishing ourselves among the elite of the women’s game and working in tandem with SAFC is exciting and will go a long way in securing the long term future of the ladies club.”
As part of the structure, clubs will also be required to operate a reserve team, which will play in The FA WSL Development League.
The WSL season commences in March 2014, running through until October. Further details regarding fixtures and the ladies team will be announced in due course.