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Women's Football News
Reading have admitted that their future is in serious jeopardy if they are forced to remain in the Northern Division of the FA Tesco Women's Premier League.
Reading FC Women was founded in 2006 and became an immediate success story, winning every game en route to promotion in each of the team's first two seasons and rising to the country's second tier at the start of the current campaign.
However, due to a geographical imbalance within the leaguem they were placed in the Northern Division, leading to the unusual scenario of a team from Berkshire competing in a supposedly 'regional' league alongside clubs such as Newcastle, Sunderland, Preston, Tranmere, Lincoln and Manchester City.
Director of Women's Football Lee Herron said, "From a footballing perspective, we've really enjoyed competing at a higher level this season and the girls have done extremely well to maintain a solid mid-table position in a very well-contested league. Competing on an even footing with established women's teams such as Aston Villa and Sheffield Wednesday has been very rewarding and the progress made by the girls - both individually and as a team - has been exciting to witness.
"However, logistically it has proved extremely difficult and we are very concerned whether it will be feasible for us to continue running the team if we are forced to remain in the Northern Division. From a time and money perspective, we are really concerned that it just might not be sustainable to continue in the current format.
"Games typically take place on Sunday afternoons, which means that for away fixtures we have two options; we can make a really early start to get to the game on time and then travel back immediately afterwards, often spending up to ten hours on the road in a single day and not arriving home until the early hours of Monday morning, or we have to commit to the time and expense of travelling the day before the game and staying in a hotel. Our players are all amateurs and either work or study full time and asking them to make such a massive time commitment has been a real strain.
"It would be a terrible shame if we had to disband the team for non-footballing reasons because we have been absolutely delighted with the progress made by our girls in the last three years. We have really developed our reputation within the women's game, illustrated by our recent invitation to play against the Republic of Ireland national team for a testimonial fixture. A number of our players have gained international recognition, our Girls' Centre of Excellence is thriving and we have every reason to believe the team can go from strength to strength - but the practical considerations cannot be overlooked and we may have to face the prospect of dissolving our senior women's team. Another option could be voluntarily relegating ourselves to a regional league at a lower level, but that would be a real backward step.
"We do fully appreciate that it is very difficult for the Football Association, who administer the league, to find a solution that suits every club, but hopefully some kind of compromise can be reached. We have formally written to the FA to ask how we can apply for membership of the Southern Division, but so far we have not received any response."
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