Out of top 20 men’s football clubs in the world, only Real Madrid and Manchester United are without a women’s organisation. As of the last week, Manchester United announced intentions to change that and reintroduce a team to the women’s game.
Back in 2005, Manchester United announced their intention to cease operating a women’s team, with the clubs leadership citing a “lack of coordination with the clubs wider strategic goals”. In the time since the women’s team demise, the women’s game has come on leaps and bounds, with clubs such as Manchester City, Barcelona and PSG all committing a significant amount of capital to developing their own women’s teams. So why are Manchester United stepping back into the ring?
In the last six months, the English FA has announced a restructuring of the elite women’s game in England. This change has meant that clubs have had to apply for a license to play in a specific division, with the top tier becoming a completely professional league. This means that clubs are required to provide a certain level of training and that all clubs must have an academy that gives young player’s a pathway to the first team.
Manchester United have elected to apply for a license to play in the second tier of the newly formed league pyramid. This means that players will more likely be contracted by the club on a part-time basis, this is most likely to mitigate the risk of investing the sorts of money that their city rivals and others have done and to also reduce any risk of embarrassment should the team not perform to the expected level of a Manchester United team.
Ultimately, the ambition of the women’s game is massive and it has the potential to fulfil that ambition. This step by Manchester United to implement a women’s team also has the potential to further build United’s already worldwide reputation through a game that has a growing audience. This has the ability to be mutually beneficial, something that might not have been immediately apparent had the club looked at the sport in years gone by.
Featured Image by: Jon Candy (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/6/62/Great_Britain_Womens_Football_Team.jpg)
Images within the article provided courtesy of: Getty Images