Manchester United seeks license from FA to form first professional female team in the club.
United have been heavily criticised for a lack of involvement in the women’s game but club bosses have taken huge strides to rectify that over the past few months.
The decision comes as the FA are completely restructuring the pyramid, including a full-time Super League division for the first time ever.
United are set to enter the second division, WSL2, should the FA accept their application as expected. They will train at the club’s old training ground, The Cliff.
United are the only Premier League club not to have a senior side, while rivals Manchester City have grown into one of the country’s powerhouses. United’s girls team has 85 registered players and were beaten in the FA Youth Cup semi-final by Reading last week.
The move has been in the offing for some time, with a club representative attending a recent Women in Football conference, asking pertinent financial questions.
United have always maintained the situation is ‘under review’, and talks surrounding finance and facilities have taken place over a period of months. Leigh Sports Village, where the men’s Under 23 team play, has been earmarked as a potential home.
Executive vice chairman Ed Woodward 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.’
Former United defender Phil Neville had urged the club to form a team on being unveiled the England coach in January. ‘I will be encouraging them,’ he said. ‘They 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.’